U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, has admitted he was “wrong”--but stopped
short of offering an apology as President Obama did--when he said that folks
who liked their health insurance could keep it under the Affordable
Healthcare Act (ACA).
Visclosky made that concession at his annual Chesterton town meeting, held
on Jan. 4 at the Library Service Center.
Visclosky did not address the ACA in his opening remarks but the first
question in the Q/A--submitted by an attendee on a card--put the issue this
way, more or less: When President Obama “misspoke” about people’s being able
to keep their insurance if they liked it, did he do so out of “incompetence”
or because he hadn’t read the actual bill?
Visclosky began by stating that the ACA, which actually went into effect in
2010, was designed to solve “a significant number of problems with the
system” and it’s done just that. Children and others may no longer be denied
coverage for pre-existing conditions, for example. And the ACA has brought
“some equity” to a system which had been characterized by “great disparity
and discrimination,” in which--he said--38 percent of women were previously
denied coverage, “just flat out turned down.”
But, Visclosky acknowledged, “certainly” some people who secured health
insurance in the open market have seen their policies canceled by “companies
that did not want to subscribe to services required under the ACA.” And “I
was wrong” in statements previously made about the possibility of such
cancellations, in particular, Visclosky noted, in a statement made to union
“Some people have been canceled,” he said. “A minority of Americans. But it
Even so, Visclosky remarked, over any two-year period, only 17 percent of
policy holders in the open market keep the same policy unchanged.
In general, Visclosky expressed the hope that “people of both ideological
persuasions at the extreme calm down.” The ACA is “not perfect, it’s overly
complex,” and “we need to get rid of the complexity and fix some of the
unintended problems.” But opponents of the law should accept the fact that
President Obama won’t repeal it and the U.S. Supreme Court will not find it
unconstitutional. They should also accept the fact that President Obama ran
for re-election on the ACA platform and won.
Visclosky did take a moment to dispel one misimpression: namely, the notion
that Congress exempted itself from the ACA. Congress did not exempt
itself. On the contrary, members of Congress were the “only people expressly
prohibited from maintaining their health insurance,” were in fact “forced to
go to the exchanges.”
* The budget deal: It was a “positive but temporary step, a tiny
step,” and for that reason Visclosky said he voted against it. More to the
point, Republicans continue to refuse to consider new taxes or tax hikes,
whereas Visclosky said that both spending and taxes need to be on the table.
“Everybody needs to pay some of the freight.”
* Immigration: In the past Visclosky voted against amnesty for
illegal aliens and the so-called Dream Act, favoring instead a
“comprehensive approach” to immigration. He “fully” supports the hiring of
additional immigration officers because “we need to know who’s coming into
this country and why.” He also lamented “unscrupulous employers who pay
illegal aliens as little as possible and drive all wages down.” Finally,
Visclosky said that it would be “unfair” to let illegal aliens go to the
front of the line when so many legal aliens are working hard to become U.S.
* Gun control: Visclosky voted for the 10-year ban on semi-automatic
weapons and large-capacity magazines which was enacted in the 1990s and has
since expired. He also voted for the Brady Bill, which provides for
background checks. Visclosky said that he supports closing a “huge loophole”
in the Brady Bill for gun shows.
Chesterton Middle School eighth-grader Molly McLaughlin led attendees in the
Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the event.