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Opponents seek to repeal Affordable Care Act, see it as 'destructive as the Fugitive Slave Act'

Last modified: 8/2/2013 12:19:47 PM
At a State House rally yesterday, former House speaker Bill O’Brien compared the Affordable Care Act to an 1850 law enforcing slavery.

The health care law is “as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act,” said O’Brien, who remains a state lawmaker and is a likely candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2014 2nd Congressional District race.

O’Brien spoke to about 100 people gathered on the State House lawn for a rally and picnic sponsored by Americans for Prosperity’s New Hampshire chapter. Rally-goers said they attended to show they haven’t given up hope that the federal Affordable Care Act can be repealed.

O’Brien called for the health care law to be repealed in favor of “free health care markets.”

“They fooled us long enough to pass a law that is clearly among the worst ever enacted by Congress . . . and we are left with empty federal promises,” he said.

Greg Moore, Americans for Prosperity’s state director, said President Obama broke promises by instituting a tax on people who don’t obtain insurance after the law is implemented, and because health care premium costs in many states continued to increase after the law was passed.

“We need to slow down implementation of this law. People’s lives are at stake,” he said.

Rep. Pam Tucker, a Republican from Greenland, earned one of the largest rounds of applause during her remarks, which followed O’Brien’s. She lauded New Hampshire for refusing to take on the task of creating online insurance markets in the state, a central component of the reform law, leaving responsibility for that task to the federal government. State legislators have also delayed acceptance of federal money meant to employ advocates to educate people about the online marketplaces.

Zandra Rice-Hawkins of Granite State Progress attended the rally and responded to the speakers’ remarks afterward.

“Real health care advocates care about getting people covered. AFP is using health care as a political wedge,” she said. “We had funding available to the state to do outreach and education so that citizens could learn about the reform and make real choices. Now we’re hearing a lot of rhetoric instead, politicizing the issue for partisan reasons, purposely blocking the opportunity for actual advocates to educate the public.”

Later in the day, Harrell Kirstein, communications director for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, called on other Republicans to condemn O’Brien’s remarks linking the Affordable Care Act to slavery. The Fugitive Slave Act to which O’Brien referred allowed slave owners to recapture escaped slaves even after they reached free northern territory, and punished abolitionists who helped them.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)


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