Jason Altmire on Obamacare: from voting ‘no’ to making it work

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In 2010, then-US Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania voted against Obamacare despite intense pressure from his party to support it.  Today, Altmire is the senior vice president of public policy, government and community affairs for Florida Blue — a Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurer — whose job involves assisting folks in implementing the law.

“The job puts Altmire, who lost in a primary last year after redistricting pitted him against fellow Democrat Rep. Mark Critz, in the position of trying to make a success out of a complex law that he opposed,” writes Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico.

Haberkorn describes Altmire’s transformation as one where he is committed to seeing the law succeed for the benefit of those who gain coverage, despite the fact that he could not support final passage of the legislation as he felt it would fail to reduce costs.

“The cost of inaction on health care is great, but it would be an even bigger mistake to pass a bill that could compound the problem of skyrocketing health care costs,” Altmire said at the time, who went on to support some of targeted repeals of the law, such as defunding the IRS’s work as well as the insurance exchanges.

Today, Altmire’s job is to explain to people how these exchanges work and encourage them to enroll — actions that are backed heavily by insurers such as Florida Blue which stand to benefit from the mandate for individual coverage and rely on exchanges as the mechanism through which enrollment happens.

If only sick individuals utilize exchanges, insurers will “be stuck” with the most expensive patients.

Altmire, as the public face of Florida Blue, has set up brick and mortar shops around the state to make enrollment more convenient for people, and has created a 12-person speakers bureau that is dispatched to talk with business associations or community groups about the law.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.