Bay Area Democrats help defend health care law

January 19, 2011 8:38:45 PM PST
In Washington, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the president's health care reform law. It was largely a party line vote.

This has been coming ever since the November election, but now that the votes have been cast in the House, the really important race for public opinion continues.

In Congress on Wednesday, Republicans pushed forward their campaign promise.

"It is time to push Obama Care aside so that America's job creators, both large and small, can move forward with the confidence they need to hire new workers," said Rep. John Kline, R-Minnesota.

Democrats have been countering with stories from people who've been helped by the law. On Tuesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., recounted the story of a Castro Valley 5-year-old, Leah McCollister, in a conference call with reporters.

"Her family tried repeatedly to get coverage. They couldn't because of her pre-existing condition," said Boxer.

Today, Leah's pre-existing condition is under control. She's healthy, but when she was born she weighed one pound and her body was unable to ward off infections.

"We were denied by eight different people or eight different insurance companies multiple times," said Sage McCollister, Leah's mother.

So when Leah got sick. It meant a trip to the emergency room and thousands of dollars in doctor bills.

"Needless to say, it was pretty rough and we're lots in debt," said Sage.

But when the health care law passed, companies were barred from excluding her and as a single mom, Sage now qualifies for a Kaiser plan costing $8 a month.

"That's why we wrote the thank you letter," said Sage.

That letter to Boxer is how the senator found out about the McCollisters.

Also on Wednesday, on the floor of the House, Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, led the Democratic attack on behalf of those who've been denied.

"When you say, 'I went to the doctor.' They say, 'You should've called us first.' When you say, 'I had emergency surgery.' They say, 'You should've called us first. We're not covering it.' You talk about bureaucracy ladies and gentlemen and that why this legislation is growing in popularity," said Miller.

But is it growing in popularity? An ABC-Washington Post poll taken last month showed 43 percent of Americans support the health care law. That was the lowest percentage ever. A month later, the numbers have hardly changed. And now Republicans will start going after the legislation piece by piece, picking out the least popular provisions says ABC7's political analyst, Prof. Bruce Cain, Ph.D.

"The strategy of outright repeal is largely symbolic. I think the strategy of going after specific aspects of the bill is very much a threat and one that Democrats are going to have to contend with over the next two years," said Cain.

A couple of the least popular provisions were the mandates requiring company and individuals to purchase coverage or pay a penalty and the additional tax forms companies must file. We'll be hearing a lot more about those provisions as the Republican's roll out their alternatives.