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Obamacare opponents remain resolute in Michigan

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Several dozen people showed up at a town hall meeting in Jackson to criticize the Affordable Care Act. Republican Congressman Tim Walberg of Michigan is hosting a series of meeting on Obamacare this week.

Opponents of Obamacare turned out for a meeting in Jackson today.  

Congressman Tim Walberg is holding a series of town hall meetings this week on the Affordable Care Act.

The Republican congressman is showcasing small business owners and patients who say they are paying more for health insurance under Obamacare.

More than 100,000 Michiganders have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare, but Walberg says there's a problem with that statistic.

“Many of those have tried to sign up or have signed up but haven’t paid yet. They haven’t acquired a policy yet,” Walberg says.

Walberg says it’s important for opponents to talk about Obamacare’s problems, since he says Democrats are trying to change the subject.

“(Democrats would) rather pivot to talking about minimum wage, unemployment insurance, violence against women – and try to get people’s minds off of (Obamacare),” says Walberg.

Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee says he is “very open to looking at places where we can improve (Obamacare).”  

Kildee specifically would like to revisit a provision in the law designating workers as full time if they work 30 hours a week or more. Some employers are cutting part-time employees' hours to keep them under the 30-hour threshold. 

But Kildee is concerned that Republicans are not being serious about making improvements to the law.

“As long as the ‘improvements’ are intended to be ‘improvements,’  I think you’ll find Democrats who are willing to work with the other side,” Kildee adds, noting that Republican improvements to the Affordable Care Act have included “poison pills” intended to kill the program. 

Vern and Dawn Buchbinder were among those at today’s Obamacare town hall in Jackson.

Vern Buchbinder runs a landscaping business in Jackson County. Their old health insurance plan was canceled when Obamacare took effect. They admit they could get a better health plan for their family that would actually be cheaper than the health insurance policy that they used to have. But the Buchbinders say they don’t want a government subsidy to make the plan more affordable.

“I feel blessed to be out there at work and it’s the responsible thing for any American to go out and earn their way,”  says Vern Buchbinder.

Eighty-six percent of Michiganders who’ve gone through the federal government website have qualified for tax credits to offset the cost of their new health care plan. 

The Obamacare signup deadline is March 31.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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