Rep. Pallone Explains ‘Monkey Court’ Comment, Helps With Health Exchange Sign-Ups

October 25, 2013 | Health Care, Politics

By David Cruz

It was the outburst heard round the web.

“Once again here we have my Republican colleagues trying to scare everybody. … I will not yield to this monkey court or whatever you wanna call it,” said Congressman Frank Pallone during a House hearing on Obamacare yesterday.

The usually mellow Congressman Frank Pallone lashing out at his Republican colleagues for what he says were more attempts to delay, defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act, of which he is a primary author.

“I used the term monkey trial and kangaroo court and then it became a monkey court somehow between the two,” Pallone said. “When I get upset over what’s happening, then I react accordingly. Look, you understand, these are my constituents.”

Today Pallone was in Asbury Park, visiting with navigators and those trying to sign up for the federal health exchange, digging into the details with one woman who managed to get into the system but had a hard time understanding it.

“We’ll have to look into it further but I don’t think there’s any question you can use the subsidy towards the others. You just wanna be able to calculate it,” Pallone said.

Beatriz Oesterheld is executive director of the Hispanic Affairs and Resource Center of Monmouth County, where the uninsured make up a great percentage of her clients.

“Last year we served 7,200 people and of those I can tell you that at least 50 percent of them do not have health insurance, so for us, for the navigators that come into our building every week is helping the community,” Oesterheld said.

The Resource Center has been making space available to navigators like Barbara Scholz, who works for the Foodbank of Ocean and Monmouth Counties in nearby Neptune.

“Some people ask why is a food bank doing this? We give out emergency food to pantries and soup kitchens. We serve about 127,000 people a year. Forty percent of them have significant unpaid medical and hospital bills, so if you’re struggling to put food on the table, having to pay hospital bills makes it even worse,” Scholz explained.

Pallone urges residents to use the navigators, who have been trained to navigate the stormy seas of the Affordable Care Act rollout. He also took a swipe at Gov. Chris Christie, who he said was joining other Republican governors in trying to undermine the ACA by refusing to set up state-run exchanges.

“The outreach that would’ve told people that they could come here to the food bank or they can go to a community health center or go make the 1-800 call is very limited because we didn’t set up our own state program,” Pallone said.

The congressman and the navigators acknowledged that the rollout was a mess. But they say they’re confident that by early November, everyone who tries to sign up for the exchanges will be able to get past the log-in page.