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Dems, Republicans bring Obamacare fight to Indy

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The conservative Heritage Action for American organization brought its anti-Obamacare tour to Indiana’s capitol city on Monday and called for Congress to defund the federal health care program – even if it leads to a partial government shutdown.

More than 300 people showed up at the group’s town hall meeting at the Hilton in downtown Indianapolis to hear Heritage Action Chief Executive Mike Needham and former Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina talk about health care.

DeMint, a Republican, is now the president of the group’s sister organization, The Heritage Foundation.

“Americans have every right after the way this bill was passed and the unfulfilled promises to demand their elected officials stop this bill before it’s implemented and before it’s too late,” DeMint said before the town hall began.

Indianapolis was the ninth city on an ongoing tour that DeMint said is meant to educate Americans about the health care law and the actions their elected officials could take to stop its implementation. Needham said Congress needs to take action before Oct. 1 when Americans without insurance can begin signing up through so-called exchanges – essentially online marketplaces – to buy health coverage.

“The goal here is to get rid of all of Obamacare,” Needham said. That would include popular provisions that protect patients with pre-existing conditions and rules that let young adults stay on their parents’ policies longer as well as more controversial provisions that require all Americans to buy insurance.

DeMint said Congress should scrap the plan and then put back in place those provisions that make sense. And he called for new rules to let insurance companies sell policies across state lines and let individuals keep those policies throughout their lives, even as they change jobs and move.

But even if the GOP-controlled U.S. House passes a budget plan that doesn’t fund the health care law, it’s unlikely to pass the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority. And that standoff could lead to a shutdown of nonessential federal government services when the existing federal budget expires on Oct. 1.

“We could win that argument,” DeMint said Monday.

But supporters of the existing federal health care law held their own event on Monday on the Indiana Statehouse steps, where state Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, said the Heritage events have been aimed at scaring Americans about the federal health care law.

“Do we want to make people afraid of health care?” Delaney said. “Or do we want to make them informed about health care. That’s the whole dispute.”

State Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said that, in Indiana, the health care law already means that 62,000 young adults have insurance through their parents’ policies; 85,000 seniors have saved more than $60 million on prescription drugs, and roughly 376,000 children with pre-existing conditions no longer can be denied health care.

“Many Hoosiers are seeing those benefits and many more will realize many more benefits come Oct. 1 of this year,” Lanane said.

But, on Monday night, Needham said the public doesn’t support the health care law and voters need to insist their elected officials vote to defund it, and he introduced U.S. Reps. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd District, and Todd Rokita, R-4th District, who attended the meeting.

Needham compared the anti-Obamacare fight to the effort less than a year ago to stop gun control legislation that once appeared likely to pass following a shooting spree at an elementary school in Connecticut.

“The time to fight is now and we will defund Obamacare in September,” he said, as the crowd applauded. “Yes we can,” the crowd chanted.

DeMint looked across the standing-room-only crowd and told those in the back that the space plan was intentional. “We’re trying to simulate a doctor’s waiting room” after Obamacare goes into effect, he said to crowd laughter.

But then he turned serious, telling the crowd that Obama wants to “centrally manage everything,” including the economy, taxation and individual liberties.

“The reason we call ourselves conservative is we want to conserve the things that work,” he said. “Sometimes it does seem like we’re angry, because we are.”

He said that’s because liberal leaders are misleading the public about health care, poverty and the middle class. And he accused Obama of trying to lead the country into centralized medicine. But Delaney said that what conservatives are attacking is actually a law that promotes private insurance.

“Apparently, Mr. DeMint and others want private health insurance to fail,” Delaney said. The existing insurance system was “costing too much, it was covering too few and to many people were excluded and so we decided to try to fix it.” “Have we done a perfect job? No,” Delaney said. “Will change be disruptive? Yes. Will most people benefit? Absolutely. Will the system benefit? Yes.”

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  • Concept
    Sharon, the law is mandating coverage with the intention of bringing down cost in the long run. We just don't know if that will work. i hope it does for the sake of the country.
  • Well
    It is really hard to debate the fact that premiums and taxes are going up because of the new law.
  • Fair Debate
    Both politicians made fair arguments for and against the ACA. Could there be waiting times for care, yes. Should you buy a policy for the exchange you could experience a delay in seeing the doctor. The exchange policies will have narrow networks which could cause this delay. Will people now have access to coverage, yes. There will no underwriting or limits on Pre X conditions. If you don't want to wait in line, buy a policy that has an open network outside the exchange. If you need subsidized premium to afford the policy, buy the policy inside the exchange.
  • So funny
    No one from the right addresses the fact that this was initially Heritage's own proposal. You just get hyperbolic screeds full of spelling errors or pat, bumper sticker arguments like Elaine's. No, Elaine, you aren't "paying for" my employer-provided healthcare and a government with a bloated defense budget like ours isn't bankrupt. Funny how there's always enough money to kill people but never enough to help them. Sad.
    • You are already paying
      EVEN those of you who are against Obamacare are ALREADY PAYING for the cost of providing health care to the uninsured. You are doing this through 20%-30% annual increases in the cost of your insurance. Providing access to minimal level of health care is the #1 economic issue of our times. The only alternative to some mandate toward universal coverage is to refuse care to people presenting at emergency rooms. As long as we aren't going to do that, we will continue to shift costs to those who can still afford insurance--clearly a shrinking population. Without this bill, or a similar solution that promotes coverage, more and more "middle class" working people will find themselves unable to afford coverage. Additionally, by providing minimal coverage for more people, we will be SAVING money by providing more preventative care, by providing curative care earlier in illnesses, and by providing less non-emergency care in hospitals.
      • Marie - who's going to pay for it?
        Of course all the folks out there that support this trainwreck NEED it. The rest of us have to work to pay for your coverage - that's what we don't like about it. The goverment is bankrupt.
        • Get with it people
          Isn't it amazing that some of the first comments posted here were not for or against Obamacare, but about gays! This is the real problem in our country! Get past your personal politcal agenda (or sexuality) and demand what is right for AMERICAN's. This law is not good for Americans! How would those insisting that gay marraige be legalized feel if we imposed a health care mandate on them in order to be married? Would that be ok? NO it would not, because its not right for AMERICANS that the federal government mandate that kind of law. Wake up people of your country will be gone in the blink of an eye!
        • status quo
          Yes, lets stick with the current system that has worked so well, they seem to have forgotten the double digit premium increases the last 10 years, in addition to the fact that we currently ALL pay for those without coverage.
        • Heritiage main agenda--outlaw gays.
          I was under the impression that the Heritage Foundation's main fight is to support any anti-gay movements. Watch 19 kids and counting? Their oldest son just went to work for them. They hate gays. The Heritage Foundation should be outlawed as a very bigoted group. They also fight birth control and abortion. I guess they want to populate the country with their radical right wing concepts.
        • If it had been someone besides Obama who gave us this health plan, would you dislike it?
          It is the beginning of healthcare for everyone-----we need this. As a Senior citizen with many medical problems and medicines------I am fully behind ''Obamacare''.
          • Heritage foundation rejecting its own ideas
            I find it comical that none of the articles I see about DeMint and his Heritage Foundation tour mention that the Heritage Foundation was in fact the initial proponent of the individual mandate: http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2011/10/20/how-a-conservative-think-tank-invented-the-individual-mandate/ Seems like a pretty important piece of historical context to omit in the coverage.

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          1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

          2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

          3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

          4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

          5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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