July 31, 2014

Medina
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Local U.S. reps split on opinion of health care reform bill

Medina County’s representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives could be casting opposing votes today on the repeal of last year’s health care reform legislation.

Newly elected U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, said in a statement Tuesday he would vote for the repeal.

Renacci

Renacci

Sutton

Sutton

U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Copley Township, who will be voting against the repeal, said in a statement: “Instead of trying to go back to the days when insurance companies could discriminate against children and adults alike based on pre-existing conditions, when seniors were thrust into a ‘donut hole’ and forced to pay out-of-sight prescription drug costs, and when families feared that they were just one serious illness away from bankruptcy, Speaker Boehner and the House Republicans ought to be focused on getting Americans back to work.”

Officially, their votes may not mean much since the repeal is expected to be struck down in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate or vetoed by President Barack Obama. However, Renacci said there is still meaning to the vote.

“The American people are opposed to the government takeover of health care that is killing jobs, gutting Medicare, raising taxes and causing premiums to skyrocket. Jim Renacci understands that and hopefully by now, Senate Democrats and the White House understand it as well,” he said in his Tuesday statement.

The Associated Press reported this week the White House is dismissing the vote by House Republicans, saying it’s not “a serious legislative effort.”

Delayed after the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., the vote is expected today. Democrats still have a majority in the Senate, and they have promised to block the effort. Obama is expected to veto the measure if it gets as far as the White House.

Even though the repeal isn’t expected to go anywhere, some groups want to make sure local representatives hear their opinions.

Catholics United, a Washington-based nonprofit, called 5,000 Catholic voters in Renacci’s 16th District. With a recorded message, the group urged voters to contact Renacci and ask him to vote against the repeal.

“Voting to repeal health insurance protections for children with pre-existing conditions and increasing the cost of prescription drugs for our seniors is simply wrong,” Trudy Marcus, a Catholics United member from Wooster, said in a Tuesday statement.

Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, said his group’s message is important, even though the repeal isn’t expected to get far. He said Republicans are using the repeal as a piece of “political theater.”

“They are using this as an opportunity to gain headlines. … We’re taking the opportunity to remind people that we believe that (health care reform) is the right thing to do, especially as Catholics … because already it’s helping so many people,” Korzen said.

Jim Woods, co-founder of the conservative group Medina County Friends and Neighbors, said there are plenty of people locally who disagree.

“There’s a lot of activity going on with people urging others to contact their congressman and support the effort to repeal Obamacare,” he said.

But, he said, that may not get them far.

“I think, in all seriousness, everyone knows it will not make it through the Senate; and if it does, it will be vetoed by Obama,” he said.

Instead, he suggested legislators work on health care reforms that could work on top of previous legislation. For example, he said, Congress has discussed tort and insurance reforms other than what were passed last year.

“A couple of the best ideas they had that went nowhere under the (U.S. Rep. Nancy) Pelosi-majority, now they have a new opportunity to bring back some of those ideas,” Woods said.

Medina Township resident Natoma Canfield said Tuesday she still supports the health care reform. Canfield became a face of the health care reform debate after writing a letter to Obama in which she expressed her concerns about living without health insurance. Obama came to Strongsville and cited her as one of millions who would be helped by reform.

“I think it shouldn’t be abandoned. It’s just so important,” Canfield said.

However, she added she largely wouldn’t be helped by the legislation because she qualified for Medicaid.

“But there’s so many people that would have benefited from this bill,” she said.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.