As I've said before, NC-10 where I grew up is one of the most miserable places in the country to live, and GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry is doing everything he can to keep it that way. He has no problem taking Obamacare benefits away from some of the most needy people in the country and now he has to face those voters over the Easter recess.
The two-week recess is the first extended break from Washington for lawmakers since the 2014 open enrollment season ended and coverage for many Americans kicked in. Many people with new plans received subsidies to make their health insurance more affordable, or they became eligible for expanded Medicaid.
It’s not that red-state representatives and senators won’t come across negative stories about the Affordable Care Act from constituents who say the law caused their plans to be canceled, forced them to change doctors or raised costs for their businesses.
It’s that other group, comprising the people being helped, that potentially poses a challenge.
In North Carolina, enrollment was higher than the national average, and 91 percent of those signing up were eligible for subsidies as of March 1. California, Florida, Idaho, Maine and Michigan also had greater rates of enrollment and subsidized coverage than elsewhere in the country. (Final state numbers, which would include the late March surge, haven’t been released.)
But nobody actually signed up for Obamacare, remember? The 8 million is a giant myth, a hoax, a scam!
“We’re talking about those outside of a narrow band of folks who have benefited from this law,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina. “We’re talking about the average American who’s been harmed by it, and those are the people that are speaking today.”
And of course since McHenry is a Republican, "narrow band" means those people. But it's red state Republican voters who are starting to realize Obamacare has given them affordable health insurance for the first time in ages.
Yet the latest Gallup poll shows that the public’s attitude could be shifting, certainly far more than the lawmakers’ comments suggest. The change is particularly sharp among Republicans. In late February, 72 percent of Republicans surveyed said the law would make their own health care situation worse in the long run. By early April, that had dropped to 51 percent, and more than 4 in 10 Republicans said the law would have a negligible impact for them.
They're starting to come around. And that means Republicans are starting to deal with some very hard questions about repeal and what that would really mean for millions of Republican voters.