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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
James Hamilton of Spencerville, a longtime health care administrator, said he was disappointed Republicans have failed to float an alternative plan.

Getting an earful on Obamacare

Stutzman’s invitation draws its share of cheers, jeers

Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Allen Lauer Sr., left, and Allen Lauer Jr., right, talked to Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, Monday afternoon at an open house at Stutzman’s office in the E. Ross Adair Federal Building.

A health insurance consultant said his own insurance premiums are climbing because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But a meat market owner said the health care law will cut his insurance rates by more than half.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, had asked for input on the Affordable Care Act during an open house Monday at his office in the E. Ross Adair Federal Building, and he got it. Nearly 20 people showed up to speak individually with him, and most wanted to talk about the law that is requiring most Americans to obtain medical coverage from private insurers.

The experiences and opinions of Matt Hatfield, the insurance consultant and seller, and Lee Albright, owner of the south-side meat market carrying his last name, were drastically different.

Hatfield, a past president of the Northeast Indiana Association of Health Underwriters, told Stutzman his insurance premiums are increasing 50 percent and his medical provider network is shrinking because of changes in his policy prompted by President Barack Obama’s signature legislation. He predicted even greater sticker shock for insurance consumers starting next summer, when policies come up for renewal.

“The sooner people get the bad news, especially in an election year, the better” for voters to express their displeasure in the 2014 congressional elections, Hatfield said.

“I think Priority One is getting the current (law) tossed out,” he said. “But you also have to come back with, what are you proposing?”

Stutzman replied: “What are you replacing it with? That’s what everybody is asking right now.”

Albright doesn’t want the Affordable Care Act repealed, which Stutzman and the Republican-controlled House have voted to do numerous times. Albright told his congressman that his monthly payment for family health coverage will drop from $3,800 to $1,700 by enrolling in a plan offered through the much-maligned law.

Albright said most of his dozen employees also are enrolling in Affordable Care Act plans and will have coverage for the first time. “If the Republican Party thinks they’re going to kill Obamacare, you guys need to realize that those nine people that I add on, are they going to vote Republican ever again if you take their health care from them?”

Stutzman responded: “No, probably not.”

Albright later said, “I think we’ve lost compassion in this country for the person who can’t afford to go to the doctor.”

James Hamilton, of Spencerville, informed Stutzman he has written a book on ways to revamp the medical industry. In a nutshell, he said that “A Short Treatise on a Common Sense Framework for Health Care Reform” calls for physicians to track genetic markers in their patients in an effort to prevent diseases or manage them earlier, which he said would reduce medical costs.

“What I am proposing is that the basis for health care reform be clinically based and not business-based,” Hamilton, a longtime health care administrator and consultant, said after meeting with Stutzman. “ … Obamacare really touched very little of the elements of clinical care in terms of its care.”

Hamilton had earlier said to Stutzman, “I’m really disappointed that the Republicans haven’t come forward with an alternative plan,” adding that he would “like to see something that is very different” from the Affordable Care Act.

Stutzman replied: “There’s several Republican plans that are competing with each other right now just internally. After the first of the year, we are going to try to sort through that.”

bfrancisco@jg.net

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