Defunding Obamacare Town Hall Roadshow gets pushback from Tampa protesters

08/22/13 Samuel Johnson
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Defund Obamacare now was the theme of the town hall styled meeting Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza Westshore in Tampa.

The event was put on by Heritage Action for America, which is the political organ of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington D.C. The debate over Obamacare runs deep on both sides of the political aisle. Both supporters and opponents of the Affordable Care Act were present to assert their views.

Prior to the official media interview session, the members of the press trickled into a narrow conference room overlooking Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa. Chris Jacobs, senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, was in the conference room. He said the myth that the Republicans are without an alternative for Obamacare is just not true.

“I worked in congress in 2009 when House Republicans offered an alternative. There are numerous proposals in Congress pending now. There's a group of conservative members getting ready to offer another alternative proposal; when we get back into session in September. It's unfortunate just the mythology perhaps; because the President wants to put up straw men to say there is no alternative. Rather than admitting that...opponents of Obamacare; yes, in fact do have a real proposal out there.”

Inside the building before the meeting began there were throngs of anti-Obamacare supporters milling around. At the same time, roughly 30 pro-Obamacare supporters stood on the sidewalk displaying signs which warned about the consequences of defunding. Karen Clay, one of the sidewalk protesters, said people with disabilities and their families need to be aware of the political climate surrounding Obamacare.

“For people with disabilities that (defunding Obamacare) would be cataclysmic. I mean, you see in the state of Florida they've already privatized long-term care as well as Medicaid. If that continues people with disabilities are going to be forced back into institutions and that would be the worst thing imaginable. So families really need to start paying attention. Because I hear a lot of people say; “ah, I can't bother with politics.” Politics is all there is. For people with disabilities their lives are impacted, literally, either from the day they are born or from the day they are diagnosed.”

The focus among both supporter and detractors of Obamacare seemed to revolve around dollars and cents. Health care professionals sometimes have a different viewpoint. One such viewpoint is preventative care. It includes checkups and immunizations and is a core component of health care policies. Marc Morris, a Saint Petersburg pediatrician, said the mark of a sensible western society is measured by the health care mothers and toddlers receive.

“So any rational health-care system has to start with maternity care and newborn care. So it does effect pediatrics and it does effect obstetrics. More maybe than any other single area of medicine. The fact that this is now free; all types of preventative care are free under any policy. Is a major shift away from episodic care, like you were talking about urgent care, towards more rational and consequently less costly preventative care.”

The Republican Party has emphasized its critical need for minority voters in order for it to succeed. There were less than a handful of minorities present at the Defund Obamacare meeting. Jim DeMint, ex South Carolina senator and current Heritage Foundation president, during the Q and A with the press, said minorities are attending Heritage Foundation events in other cities.

“We've had a lot of minorities come to our town halls. So they're self selecting. In effect we're getting on all kinds of media and letting people know what we're doing. So, we've seen a good mix of folks. A number of hispanics when we were in Texas and we'll see the same thing here. So we're not selecting. They're self selecting based on wanting to keep a free health system.”

The US House of Representatives has voted a total of 40 times to repeal Obamacare and may attempt it again this year. In a Democrat controlled Senate the repeal bills might be difficult to pass.

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