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At GOP conference, health law seen as threat, opportunity

Betsy McCaughey stepped to the lectern before a room full of Republicans on Friday and, with a thud, set down a binder more than 5 inches thick. The pages filling it made up the Affordable Care Act, which McCaughey spent the next 20 minutes characterizing as a dangerous law that’s infringing on individual rights and weakening the country’s health care system.

“The very size of this law is a very dangerous problem,” said McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor in New York and author of a book called Beating Obamacare. “We Republicans now must elect a president who will repeal this law, rein in government spending and show respect and commitment to the Constitution.”

McCaughey’s talk, also called Beating Obamacare, was part of this weekend’s Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua. Her speech was brief, but Obamacare was a focal point for many speakers during the two-day conference, which drew roughly 800 attendees.

Since 2010, Republicans have been clear in their goal of repealing the law. What comes next has been more ambiguous, and speakers this weekend didn’t delve into the details, although they said Republicans do have ideas. When one attendee asked McCaughey about Republican alternatives, she blamed the media for not writing about them but was not specific about which alternatives she supports.

Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, said talking about why the law is bad is the first step toward repeal.

“I think it’s imperative that they articulate why Obamacare doesn’t work, because why it doesn’t work reveals for us what the right answer is,” she said.

Nearly every Republican this weekend said they want to encourage competition in the private sector so that costs will go down and access will increase – two of the main things they say the current law doesn’t do.

A popular idea among Republicans is to allow people to purchase insurance plans from providers in other states. Frank Guinta, who is running for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, agrees with this.

Guinta did not vote for Obamacare when he was in Congress in 2010. His first big initiative in his campaign to win back the seat he lost in 2012 is an ongoing health care listening tour. After the tour, he said he’ll release a plan with alternatives to Obamacare and an analysis of how likely it is his solutions would be passed.

“Let’s achieve the goal of greater affordability and more accessibility, more options and choice, but I do want to do it without that government intervention that the Affordable Care Act requires,” he said. “I will come up with a more engaged proposal.”

State Rep. Marilinda Garcia, a Salem Republican running in the 2nd Congressional District, said the focus should be on quality of care. Garcia said she’s been working to reform health care regulations to increase competition and encourage transparency in pricing so that doctors and patients understand how much things cost.

“I realistically am looking to dismantle as much of Obamacare as possible,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte also made Obamacare a focus ofher lunchtime speech to the crowd. Every Republican in the U.S. Senate wants a solution that would replace Obamacare with options that put choices back in the hands of the people, she said. But, Ayotte said, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid barely allows any Republican ideas come to the floor for a debate or vote.

“I think one of the challenges we face is that it’s harder to have that conversation because we can’t get the media to engage on it or because a good bill that comes out of the House dies in the Senate so it simply doesn’t get the conversation,” Horn said.

Either way, Republicans believe an anti-Obamacare message is a winning one in 2014. And if they do win back the Senate, Republicans said they will repeal the law.

“Let’s just be clear,” Ayotte said. “Every Republican in the United States Senate wants to repeal Obamacare.”

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or or on Twitter @kronayne.)

UPDATE: This story was updated on March 16, 2014, to correct references to New Hampshire’s 1st and 2nd congressional districts.

Legacy Comments11

Obamacare is only called that so that Republicans with NO ALTERNATIVES can keep people agitated who have been led to hate Obama. The Affordable Care Act is exactly that. It is already helping thousands in New Hampshire, and it will never be repealed. Your grandma is paying less for prescriptions, your spouse has coverage that was previously denied under the "free market" system because he had knee surgery 10 years ago; and your 23-year-old can stay on your coverage until he gets on his feet financially. Yes, Obamacare really sucks. The GOP loves, creates, and exploits low-information voters.

If liberal progressive socialist democrats actually provided proof or a reliable source or at least a headline we could search we would be able to verify their screeds. Until then they are just whimsical blather to excite their LIDV base. HEADLINE: Gallup: Percentage of Uninsured Americans Higher Now Than in 2008 HEADLINE - ObamaCare will hasten income inequality, union report says. HEADLINE: For the Uninsured: Obamacare is Unaffordable . HEADLINE : The Obamacare Disaster Is Now Undeniable.

After Obamacare kills a few million more people, the public will get the message. People are starting to figure out the purpose of having the government take over insurance companies which basically is what they did. The passed the cost on to us and lied about it and keeping your plan you liked. More people now have no healthcare than were able to get it as a result of ACA. It's just a bad deal all around.

Explain to me how having health care versus have none will "kill a few million people?"

All that Obamacare has done is take insurance away from hard working Americans and given it to others who did not havd health insurance, paid for with subsidies from those who now pay much more. It is health care redistribution. From those who have insurance, to those without insurance, paid for the responsible people who have always taken care of that responsibility. It is a fact that premiums, co-pays, prescriptions and deductibles have all gone up, sometimes three to four %. Stop acting like that is not true. Progressives are ecstatic that they could play Robin Hood with health insurance. As long as the grant writer can get health care on the public dime and save money, they could care less about people who had Cancer and have lost their treatment plans. For people who claim to have compassion, your folks really are hypocrites.

I hope I'm not one of those few million people! The only thing about Obamacare I don't like is that it would have made my personal health care premiums go from $450 per month to an unaffordable $900. Thus, I have no health care insurance right now.

according to Harry Reid...all lies

Imagine a NH where all that tax money sent to Wash DC to expand their suburbs and power actually stayed right here in the state to employ our people to serve our needs. Dept of Education does not employ 1 teacher but they do have a SWAT team. Dept of Ed tells you what lunch you can eat in your school. Believing in the democrat big bloated Federal Govt is akin to standing in your shower with your shower valves in the attic. How is that big bloated federal govt working out for ya? Vote for Responsible Republicans to return America to the people that own it - YOU

Go to and find out that red states are the ones that get most of the money from the feds. The ones that scream the loudest about government are being subsidized by the blue states including NH. run by Matthew Desmond is not a reputable source of any information. Is this where you get your information and talking points? I understand now.

"speakers this weekend didn’t delve into the details" Just last month the Republican National Committee unanimously decided they did not want candidates telling what their views and plans were to the average citizen. Kinda sounds like a vote now and we will tell you later what you get. Each of the noted people want to repeal Obamacare but not one gave a tangible option, just empty words. Interesting how this article notes a variety of speakers and here is Ayotte complaining the media won't print anything a republican says - If you actually say something then it might get printed or use those big business campaign donations (wait, that might be reason #2 why they are not talking).

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