ThinkProgress filed this report from a campaign event in Ames, IA
Lucas Gray, a 22-year-old student at Iowa State University, attended former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s (R) campaign event in Ames, IA, Thursday to ask the presidential candidate about his position on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the health reform law passed by Congressional Democrats and signed by President Obama in 2010. Gray, a Republican, serves as a senator on Iowa State’s student government.
Gray opposes parts of the law, but he said he wanted to let Gingrich know that repealing it in its entirety might not be such a good idea. After all, Gray and many of his fellow students across the country depend on the provision in the law that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turned 26. Before the provision took effect in September, Gray said, he did not have health insurance.
Gray did not get to ask his question during the question-and-answer portion of Gingrich’s event but approached him afterwards. Before Gingrich could give a full answer, he was rushed away by campaign staffers, out the back door to the next event. Though Gray understood why the candidate was in a hurry, he wasn’t all that satisfied with the brief answer he did receive, as he later told ThinkProgress:
GRAY: Being on student government at Iowa State University, I am of course in support of this provision. It may not affect many undergraduate students, but especially graduate students, it affects them quite often as most of them are above the age of 22, when most people get kicked off their parents’ insurance.
WALDRON: Were you satisfied with the answer that he gave you? It was brief, I know.
GRAY: It was very brief, it was hurried. I understand he’s on a tight schedule. He did say that he was going to repeal 100 percent of it. That’s also one of those Washington ‘hurry up and let’s get it done’ jobs. I did like that he at least said it’d be something to look at it in the future, however, I’d say that to somebody too if I was in his position just to not lose the vote. I don’t know. We’ll see how it works out.
At his next event, in Carroll, IA, Gingrich was again asked about the age-26 provision. An attendee stood and told Gingrich that her children were only insured because of the provision, and asked if he was dead-set on repealing even the law’s most popular provisions. Gingrich explained that, if he were president, he would support full repeal of the law, but would look at specific provisions that it contained and would consider replacing the Affordable Care Act with a law or series of laws containing those provisions.
The age-26 provision remains one of the law’s most popular provisions. Since it went into effect in September 2010, more than 600,000 young adults have taken advantage of it, according to the Kaiser Foundation. WellPoint, the nation’s largest publicly traded health insurer, said the provision was responsible for a third of its subscriber growth in the first three months of 2011, helping the company add 280,000 new members. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by the end of 2011 more than 1.2 million young adults will enroll in insurance plans due to the provision.
In Georgia, which Gingrich represented in Congress for two decades, the provision allowed an estimated 43,500 young adults to remain on their parents insurance plans. And in Iowa, where Gingrich is actively campaigning to win the nation’s first presidential caucus, it is estimated that the provision will help more than 8,300 young adults.