GOP lawmakers, think-tankers march toward uprooting Obamacare

Malena Caruso Contributor
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Tuesday's panel featured (L to R): Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, American Action Forum; Diana Fuchtgott-Roth, Manhattan Institute; Nina Owcharenko, Heritage Foundation; and Steven Duffield, Crossroads GPS. (Malena Caruso / Medill News Service)


WASHINGTON — If Tuesday’s conservative American Action Network news conference had been a fight on the school playground, Obamacare would be yelling, “Uncle!”

Conservative lawmakers, think tank experts and policy analysts made clear their opposition to the Affordable Care Act, not-so-affectionately dubbed Obamacare, at the National Press Club event.

The news conference, hosted by American Action Network and Crossroads GPS, came the day before a promised Wednesday House vote on Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s “Repeal Obamacare Act.” He introduced the bill just hours after the Supreme Court ruled that the president’s health care law was constitutional.

“Politicians don’t know what’s best for patients. It is doctors, health care professionals and families who know what’s best for patients,” said Georgia Rep. Thomas Price, a Republican who has 20 years of experience as an orthopedic surgeon.

The American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians support the universal health care law, but Price wasn’t impressed with the groups’ institutional leaders.

“Well, you just need to ask doctors in the field, working every day, and they don’t support the law,” he said. (RELATED: 83 percent of doctors have considered quitting over Obamacare) 

While the Cantor repeal vote happens Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing with testimony from AMA President-Elect Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven concerning the Medicare physician payments.

The AMA released an approving statement after the Supreme Court ruling, saying it “has long supported health insurance coverage for all, and we are pleased that this decision means millions of Americans can look forward to the coverage they need to get healthy and stay healthy.”

That didn’t faze speakers at Tuesday’s event.

“The administration promised to lower the cost of health care and have more people insured. Right now that’s on a crumbling foundation,” said Nina Owcharenko, who runs the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies.

Owcharenko and others hammered on Chief Justice John Robert’s pronouncement that the health care law’s fee on those who choose not to buy insurance is a new “tax” — not simply a “penalty,” as Obama’s supporters call it — and that it will hurt small businesses and add to the unemployment rate.

“Employers could lay off full-time workers and just hire part-time workers to avoid the $2,000 per worker penalty for not providing health insurance approved by the government,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute.

Grace-Marie Turner, president of the free-market health care think tank The Galen Institute, asserted that 80 percent of physicians are considering leaving their practices because of the cost they would have to bear with the expansion of one of the largest entitlement programs in the U.S.: Medicare.

The panelists were passionate that health insurance must be run like all other types of insurance Americans buy.

“When someone loses their job, you don’t hear them say, ‘Oh no I’m going to lose my car because now I won’t have car insurance’ or ‘I’m going to lose my house because I don’t have homeowners insurance now,’” said Furchtgott-Roth.

They said medical insurance should be something Americans can carry with them throughout their life, changing it whenever they want and having full control over their health care.

“You should be able to plug it in wherever you go, like your 401K, taking it from job to job,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Network.

At the end of the anti-Obamacare event, Holtz-Eakin offered advice to end the debate: “Whatever happens, this has to be a bipartisan reform or we will be having panels like this every four years.”

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