By Brent Brown Rushville Republican
---- — GREENSBURG – Congressman Luke Messer returned to Greensburg Friday morning as part of a tour to survey the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the people of his district.
Over coffee and a breakfast at Storie’s Restaurant, Messer told the Daily News his intent was to visit constituents in his district and examine “the real-life consequences of the ObamaCare roll-out.”
Messer, a Republican representing Indiana’s Sixth Congressional District, has recently made the rounds on national news outlets following a 16-day shutdown of the federal government in a battle between Congress and President Barack Obama over the president’s signature healthcare legislation signed into law in 2010.
The parties came to a stalemate earlier this month, which led to thousands of furloughed workers and very public political arguments that dominated national news coverage for its duration. On Friday, following the end of the Washington impasse a week ago, Messer gave a clearer outlook as to where he and his supporters within his multi-county district go from here.
“It’s the law of the land,” Messer said of President Obama’s divisive healthcare law. “Now we have to work together to minimize the impact.”
That impact, Messer said, was the purpose of this visit, which also included stops in Rushville, Bartholomew County and Shelby County, including visits to schools, factories and a hospital therein.
“We’re seeing that the more people learn about it [the Affordable Care Act], the less they like it,” the congressman said.
Messer mentioned the “disastrous” roll-out of the Affordable Care Act last week, which saw computer glitches prevent thousands from signing up under the new healthcare law. Despite the problems, national media have reported that hundreds of thousands of individuals have attempted to sign up for ObamaCare online – an estimate Messer believes is far from accurate.
“They’re now touting the numbers of people who have set up accounts,” Messer said. “But the real number that matters is the number of people who actually sign up.”
To that end, Messer said members of his team attempted to navigate the Affordable Care Act’s website in light of the difficulties many have experienced while trying to sign up under ObamaCare. Those team members were unable to sign up successfully.
A staunch congressional opponent of the law, Messer told the Daily News he was sent to Washington by voters in order to do what he could to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.
“We had clear instructions from our supporters to go to Washington and stop ObamaCare,” Messer said.
The fight over the implementation of the healthcare law drew bipartisan ire throughout the nation. A poll released earlier this week revealed that 75 percent of those questioned said members of Congress do not deserve re-election. This development was not at all lost on Messer.
“There are no political winners in a shutdown,” Messer remarked. “The real losers were the American people.”
The congressman stated his wishes President Obama would have been more willing to negotiate over the healthcare act that led to the budget deadlock, but noted the time has come to move on.
“We were sent here [to Washingon, D.C.] not just to bicker, but to get things done,” Messer said. The President of the Freshman Congressional Class said he had “worked hard to reach out” to Democrats during the shutdown and added that those efforts will continue.
“Both sides learned something,” Messer noted. “My hope is to get our focus back on helping the American people.”
In light of the criticism received primarily by House Republicans following the end of the government shutdown last week, Messer said he’s heard more supportive comments than negative ones.
“I was taught by my mom not to make excuses – to work hard and to stand by the consequences of my actions,” Messer reflected. “I’ll work with anyone from either party who is willing to sit down and talk.”
Messer stated his hopes President Obama would delay the individual mandates required under the Affordable Care Act as he did for employers last summer. The congressman also expressed worry over the high deductibles individuals might find themselves saddled with under the law.
“These high deductibles don’t protect the individual,” Messer said.
Despite his stern opposition to ObamaCare, Messer mentioned two provisions of which he is in favor.
The first is the ability for individuals to be covered by their parents’ insurance until age 26. The second is the elimination of restrictions in coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Slight concessions aside, Messer mentioned that the division in Washington has made coming to any sort of agreement difficult.
“There’s a big divide in America,” Messer said. “We need to bridge that divide and bring people together.”
Messer said he has co-authored legislation for an alternative plan to ObamaCare, noting “it’s fair to say” GOP members need to come up with an alternate plan to the president’s signature legislation.
“The costs [of healthcare] are going up for everybody,” he said. “And the status quo is not acceptable.”
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056