‘Obamacare’ protesters insist ‘hands off my health care’

Posted March 27, 2012, at 3:07 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Opponents of President Obama’s health care overhaul rallied Tuesday in the capitol as the U.S. Supreme Court entered a second day of arguments over the landmark law.

Organized by conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, the “Hands Off My Health Care” event was held in conjunction with a rally at the U.S. Capitol.

About two dozen people gathered at the Kennebec County Superior Courthouse to protest what they called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s intrusion into the lives of Americans.

“It is a 2,700-page reminder that there are forces today who want to institutionalize government control over the lives of every single American, from cradle to grave,” Carol Weston, state director of Americans for Prosperity and a former Republican lawmaker from Montville, said in prepared remarks.

Americans for Prosperity is a national organization based in Arlington, Va., financed by the industrialist Koch brothers.

In a second day of oral arguments on the law’s constitutionality, the Supreme Court on Tuesday took up the central question of whether Congress can require nearly all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.

Maine and attorneys general from 25 other states are challenging the so-called “individual mandate.”

Joel Allumbaugh, president of the Maine Association of Health Underwriters, said also troubling are the two-year-old law’s requirements for minimum health coverage.

Each state will choose an existing health plan as a benchmark for providing basic benefits, locking high-cost states like Maine into expensive plans, he said.

Layered on top are requirements that insurance companies spend 80 cents of each premium dollar on care, he said.

“Many people in Maine, both small businesses and individuals, are going to need to turn in their current coverage and buy more expensive coverage to meet those base requirements, and that’s very troubling,” Allumbaugh, also the health care policy director for the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center, said after the rally.

Several small businesses in Maine spoke out Tuesday in favor of the law, challenging the National Federation of Independent Business’ opposition to the reforms.

“For the first time, small businesses in Maine have seen payment reforms, credits and protections from the federal government that have made it easier to cover our workers and keep our businesses profitable,” David White, owner of MDI Imported Car Service in Bar Harbor and a board member of the Maine Small Business Coalition, said in a press release. “When NFIB argues against the law today, remember this: they don’t speak for me and they don’t speak for most businesses in Maine.”

Bob Sullivan traveled to the rally from Arundel to protest the health care law, which he viewed as a threat to Americans’ individual rights.

“What’s the government going to tell us to do next?” he said, carrying a sign that read “Repeal Obamacare.”

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