Government

Brown Talks Ala. Senate Race During Health-Care Call

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Tuesday’s rejection of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore by Alabama voters signals that voters there aren’t satisfied with the job the GOP-led Congress is doing in Washington, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said yesterday.

Democratic nominee Doug Jones’ narrow win over Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice in Alabama who in recent weeks was accused by several women of pursuing relationships with them as teenagers when he was in his 30s, was among the topics Brown fielded questions on during his weekly conference call with Ohio reporters.

The purpose of the call was to draw attention to Friday’s deadline to sign up for coverage under health care marketplace exchanges through the Affordable Care Act, but Brown fielded questions from reporters on an array of topics, including the previous night’s election.

Moore’s loss in the deeply Republican state, which hadn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992 reflects voters’ frustration with their lack of action on topics that matter to them, Brown said.

In Alabama last night and last month in Virginia, where the Democratic nominee bested his Republican rival in the gubernatorial contest, voters “loudly and pretty clearly spoke” about what Congress is doing on the tax bill being discussed and what it isn’t doing in terms of not addressing reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance program and not fixing the Affordable Care Act.

“The voters are sending a message to Republicans to be more bipartisan on the tax bill and we should focus on the middle class, not giving a tax break to the wealthiest people in the country,” Brown said.

The health care law has been “too politicized,” with lawmaker sin Washington attempting to roll back coverage, the senator said. Since 2013, 900,000 Ohioans have obtained coverage under the law, he reported.

Through Friday, Americans can who want to apply for coverage or change their existing coverage under the exchanges can go to HealthCare.gov; call the marketplace call center at 800 318 2596 with questions or to enroll by phone; or visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov or call the call center to obtain a list of assisters in northeastern Ohio who are trained and certified to help individuals enroll in person.

“The marketplaces are still available and working and working well,” Brown said. “They’re a great way to shop for coverage if you don’t have insurance through your employer.” Many Ohioans also are eligible for financial assistance to offset the costs of plans, he said.

Brown was joined on Wednesday’s call by Mary Bohn, a Dayton small-business owner who received assistance with signing up for her coverage under the marketplace.

Bohn, 55, found herself without health insurance prior to ACA’s passage because of two pre-existing conditions: fibromyalgia and arthritis.

“Even though I was more than happy to pay for my health insurance, they all rejected me on any triviality that they could find,” she said. “Under ACA, they couldn’t reject me anymore.” Using the assisters, she was able to find coverage she could afford with deductibles and premiums she is pleased with.

“It scares the heck out of me knowing that there is a possibility that if the ACA is removed I could go back to being an uninsured American,” she remarked.

“To me, it’s morally reprehensible that a bunch of members of Congress who have insurance provided by taxpayers would be willing to strip the insurance away from literally hundreds of thousands of Ohioans,” Brown said.

He and other proponents of the health care law operate under the assumption they will be able to keep beating back “these assaults” on the law, he asserted. Because the law has worked well, he said he is confident they will find a way to preserve it, despite efforts to dismantle it.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.