SAN JOSE, California — The fledgling push among a few Republican congressmen to sabotage Obamacare implementation by not assisting constituents who call their offices with questions appears all but dead.
In June, two stalwart conservatives, Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), announced that their offices would not help constituents who phoned in with questions about Obamacare, such as how to enroll or take advantage of subsidies that are available.
Republicans are doing everything in their power to hinder the new health law’s implementation, and refusing to help constituents who were trying to figure out how Obamacare can work for them is one way to accomplish that.
ThinkProgress spoke with three congressmen this month about whether they would be following Huelskamp and Chaffetz’s lead. Though all three made clear they opposed Obamacare, they unanimously confirmed their offices would “help every constituent that calls our office,” as Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) declared. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) agreed, explaining, “I’m not going to send our constituents out the door just because I may not like it.” Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) said helping guide constituents who call with questions about federal programs is “one of the primary functions of our office.”
Here are all three’s full responses:
REP. JEFF DENHAM: We help every constituent that calls our office. We have a job to represent everybody in our community. If you’ve got a trouble with an area of the bureaucracy, we’re going to help you through that.
REP. MARKWAYNE MULLIN: If we can get the answers, we’ll give them the answers. Right now you can’t get any answers. No one really knows. Try to actually get a playbook about what has to be done from beginning to end for the employer or the individual, you can’t do it. Right now we don’t even know the answers. But I’m not going to send our constituents out the door just because I may not like it. There’s a lot of parts of the government I don’t care for, but I’m still representing everybody. If they need help, we’re going to do what we can to help them.
KEYES: Will your office be assisting people who call with questions about Obamacare?
REP. TOM McCLINTOCK: Absolutely. Absolutely. Again, I’m adamantly opposed to Obamacare and I’ll do everything I can to see it repealed before it tanks our economy and our quality of health care and our accessibility of health care. But one of the primary functions of our office is to act as an ombudsman to constituents with the laws as they are written.
Listen to it:
Even Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has campaigned for years to dismantle Obamacare, told ThinkProgress that his office will help constituents enroll in Obamacare.
As Obamacare implementation kicks into full gear this October, individual enrollment for health insurance, particularly among young people, will be a key factor. Even if they wish the law didn’t exist, the fact that Republican congressmen are willing to help their constituents who have questions about signing up portends well for Obamacare’s long-term success.