Huffington Post/ Sam Stein
WASHINGTON -- As former Sen. Scott Brown barnstorms through New Hampshire in a likely prelude to another Senate run, he has dusted off a familiar playbook. Condemnation of Obamacare has been front and center of his pitch, much like it was in 2010 when he unexpectedly won a race to take over the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.
But times are different now. The law is no longer some theoretical set of reforms, but is being implemented with varying degrees of success and failure. And while it remains largely unpopular (virtually every Republican is making the same attacks as Brown), there are those who have already benefited, some of them Republicans.
Brown found that out on Saturday, when he stopped by the home of Herb Richardson, a Republican state representative. Sitting in Richardson's home, Brown called Obamacare a "monstrosity" that members of Congress didn't even bother to read before they passed. At that point, according to the Coos County Democrat, Richardson chimed in to explain that the law had been a "financial lifesaver" for him and his wife. From the the piece (page 14):
Richardson was injured on the job and was forced to live on his workers' comp payments for an extended period of time, which ultimately cost the couple their house on Williams Street. The couple had to pay $1,100 a month if they wanted to maintain their health insurance coverage under the federal COBRA law.
Richardson said he only received some $2,000 a month in workers' comp. payments, however, leaving little for them to live on.
"Thank God for Obamacare!" his wife exclaimed.
Now, thanks to the subsidy for which they qualify, the Richardsons only pay $136 a month for health insurance that covers them both.
The Huffington Post called and emailed Richardson to get more details on his medical and financial situation, and how and why he has benefited from Obamacare. Those requests for comment were not immediately returned. The reporter who covered the event did, however, share some details in a phone conversation Wednesday night.
"We were in [Richardson's] trailer, his wife was there, a former state rep was there, as well," said Edith Tucker. "So there were only six of us. There wasn't any interrupting. It was a general conversation. And when Scott Brown started to talk about Obamacare, it was then that Rep. Richardson explained what a boon it had been."
Richardson, Tucker noted, had gotten hurt on the job and the large costs of his health insurance premium had put him into financial disarray. "He used to live in a 12-room house in Lancaster, but he could not maintain mortgage payments during his bankruptcy proceedings," she explained, "and so he moved to a trailer home, which was where we were."
When Richardson explained how helpful Obamacare had been for him, Brown didn't interrupt, Tucker said. The conversation moved on from there to other, somewhat related topics.
"[Brown] did not [respond]," said Tucker. "You could be sure, if he had, I would have written about it."
The conversation is notable not just because Richardson spoke up, while being courted by Brown, in favor of a law Brown opposes, but because he isn't the only Republican of stature from the Granite State who is benefiting financially from Obamacare.
As The Huffington Post reported last week, former New Hampshire Republican Party chair Fergus Cullen saw his family's health insurance premiums decrease by $1,000 a month under Obamacare. But Cullen hasn't been won over by the law. He has problems with the fact that it mandates certain forms of coverage, that it's difficult to understand the benefits and costs, and that it fails to fundamentally transform the health care system.
Richardson could well have similar objections. But, like Cullen, his personal Obamacare story does underscore how the consequences of the law are not a black-and-white proposition. Supporters of the president have been undoubtedly hurt by the legislation, even as some Obama critics number among its beneficiaries.