Dispatches from 9 Red States: Despite Tea Party Speeches, Web Glitches and Lousy Local Media, Many Residents Want Obamacare
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A survey of media coverage in red states with vocal Obamacare opponents finds a huge contrast between Tea Partiers’ pronouncements in Congress, and residents trying to sign up for Obamacare. The residents said overwhelmingly on Tuesday that they wanted and needed affordable health care.
That contrast is as striking as it is disconcerting because most of the home state coverage of Obamacare’s rollout focused on the glitches—slow and backed-up websites that did not quicky respond when people tried to set up accounts and register.
In the-best prepared states, such as California, which created its own insurance-buying marketplace instead of relying on a federal web portal, the traffic reached 10,000 calls a second, InsuranceJournal.com reported. New York’s exchange received 2.5 million visitors in the first 30 minutes.
But for most of the country—including red states like Texas that have biggest low-income populations—many people wanting to register or find out more were frustrated and will have to return to healthcare.gov. They have 6 months to enroll, ending in March 2014 .
Of course, the start of Obamacare's open enrollment comes as House Republicans have forced a federal government shutdown, as part of an effort to defund it. What follows are comments by some of the law’s most outspoken opponents in the House, followed by comments of residents in their states seeking help with health care.
“Unless we have something of leverage, we don’t even get paid attention to,” said Rep. David Schweikert, R-Arizona.
“I couldn’t wait,” Phyllis Brown of Phoenix told the Arizona Republic, who has been uninsured for two years and has blood pressure and heart problems. “It’s a big relief.”
“The House is listening to the American people by advocating for a one-year delay of the individual mandates,” said Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho.
“Before we turned the lights on at 8 a.m., we saw there were already people on the line, waiting,” Alberto Gonzalez, site director of the Your Health Idaho support call center in Boise, told the Idaho Statesman.
“They want to know that resources are available, and that they don’t have to have everything done today,” Heidi Zimmer, a customer service representative at the exchange call center, told the newspaper.
“Our message has been fairly consistent, which is that we are going to try and chip away at Obamacare as part of these continuing resolution debates,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-South Carolina.
“The president asked us to think about who would be hurt if the government were to shut down. I ask him to think about how many millions more will be hurt if his health care law goes into effect,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina.
"It's going to mean a whole lot especially at this time,” Hazel Bellamy told WBTV News, a CBS affiliate. “I’m actually unemployed and right now I have to have a major surgery and just beginning to sign up for some charities so if that could go through for me that would be awesome I think it's a wonderful thing."
“An avalanche of people are trying to get in, and the system is overwhelmed,” Marcus Marbert, who is working as a Navigator for the Cooperative Ministry in Columbia, told The State. “It will pass.”
“We’re the House of Representatives. We’re the body that’s supposed to be closer to the people ... That’s why when you go home for five weeks and you hear from people that this law is not ready, that has an impact,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.