Jan 182011
Authors: Erin Udell

With the Republican repeal of the health care reform bill looming, a local democratic organization prepared a gathering on Tuesday to demonstrate support for the bill and discuss its positive impact.

The gathering drew about 20 Fort Collins residents who are involved in Organizing for America, OFA, a group affiliated with the Obama campaign that serves to support the president’s agenda.

“It’s just really important for people to hear that this historic bill is helping people,” said Jen Cheyne, the Colorado state director for OFA. “It’s important that people realize it’s affecting hundreds of thousands of people here in Colorado.”

In March 2010, President Barack Obama approved the Affordable Care Act, a health care reform bill that aimed to hold insurance companies more accountable, lower health care costs and assure and improve better quality health care choices.

The bill, which makes insurance affordable for small businesses and low-income families through tax credits, could help up to 32 million Americans receive coverage, according to a federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As a part of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance issuers who provide coverage for children through their parents’ plan must now extend coverage until the child reaches the age of 26.

“For a lot of students, as soon as they graduated they would lose coverage under their parents,” said Marty Wittmer, a Fort Collins resident and recent graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. “We would be stuck in this hole between graduating and trying to find a job with benefits, and if you get in a car accident or something happens, you would be liable for all of the costs.”

Most Republican leaders have expressed a desire for repeal since Obama signed the reforms.

“The President’s political arm cannot spin the negative impact of this law past the American people. The fact is the healthcare bill has done nothing to lower costs, and it is a prime example of how government mandates are hurting our economy and making it harder for small businesses to create jobs,” said Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., in an e-mail to the Collegian.

“We need a healthcare law that actually reduces the cost of care, while providing access and choices for every American,” Gardner added.
While the bill to repeal the reform is expected to pass in the House, it’s not as likely to make it past the Senate or the president.

According to Paul Grier of the Christian Science Monitor, Republican committees in the House of Representatives will most likely begin work on developing replacement bills for parts of Obama’s healthcare reforms, including the penalties for Americans who don’t buy health insurance.

Democrats will probably continue to highlight popular aspects of the reforms, including the resolution to provide insurance to those who suffer from pre-existing health conditions, Grier added.

With uncertainty about the reform’s future and huge opposition from Republican leaders, many OFA members continued to stress the need for affordable health care.

“Why just erase all the progress that has been made?” Wittmer said.

Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

The bill’s key points

  • Tax penalties to Americans who don’t purchase health insurance
  • Health care subsidies for low income Americans
  • Dependents can stay on parents’ health care until they are 26
  • It outlaws the denial of insurance to those with pre-existing conditions
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