HOLLIS - Members of Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire (AFP-NH) took to the road last week in hopes of addressing growing concerns over the national health care overhaul.
Around 60 people attended Saturday afternoon's rally at the Alpine Grove event center, including area legislators, business owners and residents.
Similar events were held in Laconia and New Castle last week, and organization officials said both were well-attended.
Greg Moore, AFP-NH's state director, said the topic bears much discussion because of the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare."
Moore warned that the Granite State could see a 37 percent increase in insurance rates as a direct result of the legislation, which would require everyone deemed able to do so to purchase a health plan or face tax penalties.
He called the Affordable Care Act "a seriously flawed law" that is rife with "broken promises."
"Those broken promises will have some serious consequences," Moore said. "Across the country, we're seeing premiums spiking, and nationwide, we could see our long-term debt rise to an estimated $6.2 trillion."
The Affordable Care Act, as written, offers exemptions for unions, pension funds and Congress, Moore said.afp-nh is "basically saying, 'Exempt me, too.' What about the hardworking Americans that are footing the bills?"
Passed into federal law in 2010, the Affordable Care Act was aimed at expanding Americans' access to health insurance, though many attending Saturday's forum expressed concerns that it would instead result in privacy violations, a decline in the job market and higher premium costs.
"Putting Washington in control of our health care system just isn't the way to go," Moore said. "We believe in a patient-centered system that allows for more consumer choices without having the government or employers making all the decisions."
District 44 Rep. George Lambert, a Litchfield business owner who is considering a run for governor next term, said his recent decision to partner with another company to address health care and benefit costs was a direct result of the Affordable Care Act.
"It's been unbelievably challenging for us," Lambert said.
District 20 Rep. Ralph Boehm, also of Litchfield, concurred.
"If this legislation is so great, then why is everyone trying to get out of it," he asked, motioning to the growing crowd in the room.
District 26 Rep. Jack Flanagan of Brookline offered his thoughts.
"The more I learn, the more I realize there are some good aspects (of the ACA). But that doesn't make up for the unintended consequences," he said, noting part-time workers are excluded from the plan and that many companies, including United Parcel Service, have recently been forced to discontinue spousal coverage due to rising expenses.
"It's already cost us $4 billion to establish this new exchange," Flanagan said. "So my question is, why are tax dollars still being used? When you do the math, there are way more consequences than perks."
Moore said an ultimate goal of the public rallies would be to encourage lawmakers in Washington to delay the ACA.
"This law just wasn't meant to be done so quickly," he said. "A portion of Obamacare isn't being implemented: for instance, the recent hold-off on the employer mandate and the requirement for income validation.
"So let's hold off and do it in a bipartisan way," said Moore, who added that the legislation was approved "without a single bipartisan vote."
"This is a 2,700-page document that was done in a purely partisan fashion," he said. AGuilmet@newstote.com