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Congressional health care hearing a sham, opponents say

Posted November 22, 2013
Updated November 23, 2013

— A congressional committee hearing about the Affordable Care Act drew a crowd both inside and outside the Gaston County Commission chambers Friday morning, but only two committee members attended the meeting decried by some as a political stunt.

California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, an outspoken critic of the law, led the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing to examine its implementation in North Carolina and how it has affected insurance premiums. There are dozens of other members on the committee, but North Carolina 10th District Congressman Patrick McHenry was the only other one there.

"We're not here today to question the act or its validity," Issa said. "What we are today is to review what's happening in light of its roll-out."

No Democratic members attended, and no advocates for the Affordable Care Act were invited to testify. Issa said that's because Democratic committee members did not request any such witnesses.  

The five witnesses who testified included insurance agents and business owners who oppose the law, saying it is confusing and too expensive.

Sherry Overbey of Belmont said her monthly premiums will skyrocket from $396 to $713 in 2014, with higher deductibles. She is among the millions nationwide whose policies were canceled because the law considers them substandard.

Overbey said the president has been deceptive.

"No matter what nicety you give it, a lie is a lie is a lie," she said.

The congressmen said the purpose of the hearing was fact-finding. But the questions they asked were straight out of the House GOP strategy memo known as the "Obamacare playbook" – a Republican blueprint for attacking the law in the upcoming election cycle. 

About three dozen protesters gathered outside the Gaston County Courthouse said the hearing was pure politics.

"It's the law that was passed by Congress. It was reviewed by the Supreme Court, so what is this?" protester Skip Edwards said.

He said the law will help him and his wife, who currently have no insurance because of pre-existing health problems.

Edwards said he wanted to testify at the hearing but was denied. Dana Wilson, who has multiple sclerosis and no insurance, was denied, too. She said the panel doesn't want to hear from Obamacare supporters.

"The taxpayers are paying for this, and it's not a real hearing. It's just grandstanding," Wilson said. "They need to go back to Washington and get to work."

Gerrick Brenner of Progress North Carolina Action says the law's glitches need to be fixed, but the hearing was a sham.

According to an Elon University Poll released Friday, health care now eclipses the economy as the most important issue in the minds of North Carolina voters. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed said the Affordable Care Act was the most pressing issue.

A total of 54 percent of respondents think the law will worsen health care in North Carolina, poll results show. A majority of Democrats - 58 percent - think health care will improve under the law, but only 5 percent of Republicans feel that way, according to the poll.

63 Comments

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  • rasengineers Nov 27, 9:36 a.m.

    It seems this entire debate is about the proportion each individual pays for health care. Our healthcare system evolving over the last 60 years to operate as it does today is broken. If anyone does not believe me, then I challenge them to research how fast they will go bankrupt when they contract a serious illness, even if they have good insurance. Unfettered free market healthcare has driven the cost of healthcare beyond the means of all but the most wealthy among us. Fact is we all pay for healthcare under the current system one way or another. Employers pass the cost of health plans on to the consumer. Tax payers pay for the indigent. We all will pay for healthcare under any system. The debate should be what is a reasonable cost for healthcare services and what proportion should each individual pay. Personally, I believe the ACA is a poor compromise between single payer systems and free market solutions; however, at least it is an attempt to begin addressing the problem.

  • goldenosprey Nov 25, 4:35 p.m.

    "ObamaCare is redistribution of money from the hard working barely making it middle class to the bums - timexliving

    Someone finally gets it." -justice4all

    That about the last thing s/he does. The middle class already subsidized the poor and their subset, the bums. It's called medicaid. It's called go to the ER and stick the hospital (then insured people) with your unpaid bill. Which cost us more with the irresponsible remaining uninsured and not getting preventive care.

    No one has shown more utter disregard if not contempt for the middle class as the republicans. Flawed though it is, the ACA seeks to mitigate insurance costs for working and middle class families and allow them to shop, in states that care enough about their residents to have an exchange. The pre-ACA healthcare scheme bankrupted middle class families with extreme efficiency.

  • glarg Nov 25, 1:45 p.m.

    What happened to Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant?

    Now no one is allowed to ask what happen to the $600MILLION is took to build a non-working web site months late.

  • josephlawrence43 Nov 25, 1:10 p.m.

    The only true sham in this whole, entire disaster is Obamacare--ever heard of fraud,??? Extortion???

  • soapbox Nov 22, 7:59 p.m.

    As for the number of pages of regulations, the typical number of pages per page of law runs ultimately between 50 and one hundred. With 0bamacare still in its infancy, the number is over 15,000 before whatever rewrite is done now to accommodate 0bama's latest lie. Add in the thousands of pages of state exchange regulations and the web pages and you get to 25,000 without counting all the work done by the other agencies, some of them government. If you don't agree with the numbers, just think IRS and all the thousands of pages of regulations. - retroconsultant

    Wrong. Hospitals and clinics will see their paperwork reduced. With the playing field level and everyone insured, it will be a much more streamlined process than trying to collect from nonpayers and sorting through all the insurance companies attempts to circumvent payment.

    The insurance companies will have to work harder. Boo hoo. If they'd done their job in the first place they wouldn't be in this mess.

  • cinnamon16 Nov 22, 7:50 p.m.

    It is a sham and a shame.

  • soapbox Nov 22, 7:46 p.m.

    "Do you think that having someone go directly to the ER and not paying is more expensive than having their cost go through the federal government, then an insurance company, then through an exchange, then . . .?" retroconsultant

    Yes I do as a matter of fact. I've seen those ER bills.

    I've also seen how Medicare (leftist gov't program, OH NOOOO!) works. It works great, thank you very much.

    By the way, you don't seem to understand how this whole thing operates. The exchange IS the insurance company and the federal government has nothing to do - NO ROLE WHATSOEVER - in paying the bills, or in anything else in the medical arena.

    So all those layers you mentioned? Bogus.

  • Justic4All Nov 22, 7:45 p.m.

    ObamaCare is redistribution of money from the hard working barely making it middle class to the bums - timexliving

    Someone finally gets it. Let's not forget the spouses that now need to purchase there own insurance, contractors can't even be offered the emergency medical because the guidelines are not met through the head hunters that find a position for them. The plan with least premium dollar for a $5000 deductible plan that will cover you when you end up in ER / ICU. I have to give It to them, in 3.5 years of planning, they made sure everyone felt the pain.

  • etshoney Nov 22, 7:44 p.m.

    I find it incredible that those supporting Obamacare can define political grandstanding,since they seem to be blind when it is done by the President as in "You can keep your plan. You can keep your Doctor, PERIOD." The thing we KNOW so far is that everything "right wingers" said about the plan is TRUE. Those folks quoted that they will be able to get health care for the first time have no idea since they haven't been able to sign up. They will find the cost prohibitive. Wait and see.

  • HEELSrocknU Nov 22, 7:40 p.m.

    "Where was Kay? Danny22

    Saving taxpayers money but not participating in a sham hearing."

    Well she must not be to bright, she would have saved us TONS more if she would have simply voted NO to Obamacare when she had the chance.

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