An angry constituent has told a Republican Congressman in favour of repealing Obamacare that he should “die in pain,” underscoring the intense backlash pro-repeal members of Congress face.
Rep. Doug LaMalfa, from California, a conservative stalwart in a solidly red district, got into a heated exchange with an attendee of a town hall meeting in Chico this week. The man called Mr LaMalfa's support for repealing the federal healthcare law, which congressional analysts said would strip millions of insurance, “reprehensible.”
“I hope you suffer the same painful fate as those millions that you have voted to remove health care from,” the man said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “May you die in pain.”
Mr LaMalfa countered that “people across the board are being hurt by this” existing law, according to the Times. Days before the interaction, Mr LaMalfa released a statement condemning an anticipated 12.5 per cent rise in California healthcare premium costs as a sign that the law had to go.
“Premiums continue to rise at an increasingly alarming rate, and the only solution offered by Covered California is to switch to a worse plan. This doesn’t cut it – not for California and not for America – and we must continue the fight to repeal this disastrous law and replace it with something that works,” Mr LaMalfa said in the statement.
The acrimonious exchange in Chico mirrored the extraordinary anger members of Congress faced back in 2009, when the health care overhaul was moving toward a vote. Numerous Democrats who supported the bill were swept out of office by the Tea Party wave that returned Republicans to the majority.
The political ground has shifted since then. After years in which approval ratings for the law sagged into the negative, 2017 marked the first time that a majority of voters told pollsters they supported the law.
Well aware of that newfound popularity, Democrats are hoping that the Republican repeal effort will buoy their midterm election efforts, and a handful of vulnerable California Republicans are high on their list of targets. Unseating Mr LaMalfa would be a tough proposition: Republicans have a ten-point voter registration edge over Democrats in his large and mostly rural district, where voters returned Mr LaMalfa to office last fall by a comfortable double-digit margin.
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