The polarizing effect of Obamacare

First Posted: 9/2/2013

When I was first elected to Congress, I pledged to be as accessible as possible to my constituents. Serving our community well means being available to hear your thoughts, needs, and concerns. Over the past eight months, I’ve held nearly 70 public meetings in the district, organized four focused tours (transportation, education, business, and agriculture), conducted monthly telephone town hall discussions, and just this past week hosted several town hall forums.

At the town hall forums I heard a variety of questions and concerns, but many had similar themes. Whether it was the president’s health-care law, our nation’s immigration system, or the unsustainable national debt, it is clear from the questions asked of me that our community is as frustrated as I am about the direction our country is heading.

One of the most pointed questions I received was about Obamacare. The president’s health care law has proven to be one of the most polarizing pieces of legislation to date. I heard from a number of folks who expressed support for provisions in the president’s legislation and wanted to know why Congress has voted 40 times to repeal or defund certain aspects of the law. I also heard from others who thanked me for voting to repeal the law and insisted that I continue to do everything in my power to get rid of it.

While not everyone agreed on how to fix our health-care system, most agreed that our current system is inefficient. Too many Americans are without proper health care, and everyone deserves more flexibility and access to medical care. There is no doubt that we need to implement health care reform that allows both families and individuals to have better access to medical care; however, I believe the president’s system raises taxes on Americans, stifles job creation, and takes important life or death decisions out of the patient’s hands. The law has already proven to be a drag on our economy and harmful to the middle class. I am working on advancing a replacement to Obamacare, known as the Empowering Patients First Act, which will increase access to coverage, improve the health-care delivery structure, expand the individual market, rein in out-of-control costs, and protect the doctor-patient relationship.

Many attendees at the town halls also wanted to discuss our nation’s immigration system. While most agreed that the current system is broken and in desperate need of repair, the path forward was less clear. I fundamentally believe that before we can address any type of comprehensive immigration reform, we must secure our borders.

While there were certainly areas of disagreement among those in attendance, I also found that there were a number of areas where many of you agreed. For example, most everyone agreed that the IRS shouldn’t have any role in our health care, something must be done to reform and simplify our tax code, and Republicans and Democrats need to start working together to create jobs for the millions of unemployed Americans. I look forward to our next town hall forum so we can discuss the progress Congress is making on resolving many of our nation’s most pressing problems.

Thank you to everyone who took time out of their schedules to attend one of the town hall meetings or participate in one of our telephone town halls. Hearing directly from you enables me to do my job much more effectively. Representing you in Congress is a great responsibility and I am honored you have given me the opportunity to serve.

— U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson represents the 8th Congressional District. He can be reached at 704-786-1612.