Insurance agent Steve Zellers says his job has become more difficult lately.
Zellers said the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is basically a huge, unfunded Medicaid expansion that suffers from “extreme launchpad failure.”
“There’s a much more limited choice; insurance is very expensive,” he said. “... People who honestly want to use it to buy insurance get sticker shock.”
Zellers, 45, has filed to run as a Republican for the House of Delegates in District 17, which includes Gaithersburg and Rockville. He was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in the Midwest before moving to Gaithersburg in 2010. He has worked in insurance for three years and is an engineer by education.
Zellers said he’s running in response to voters’ frustration with the health care and insurance situation under the Affordable Care Act.
“I understand the frustration of the voters in my district with the current policies and the current administration,” he said.
Although the Affordable Care Act is a federal law, Zellers says the state can make changes to how it implements the law and offer Marylanders the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP. Maryland’s state insurance marketplace is scheduled to begin offering access to SHOP plans for small businesses in April, according to the Maryland Health Connection website.
“Insurance is also regulated at the state level, so there is a lot we can do through our state legislators to help consumers have more choice and more affordability,” Zellers said.
SHOP has been a “carrot held in front of voters,” but the federal government has deferred it several times, Zellers said.
“It’s like a student skipping their final exam,” he said.
While health care reform is the cornerstone of Zellers’ campaign, he said he is also frustrated with what he describes as the high level of taxation in Montgomery County and the county delegation’s inability to return those taxes to infrastructure within the county.
“[There is] inefficiency of both the local and state government in the region here,” he said.
The District 17 chairman for the Montgomery County GOP, Zellers acknowledges that winning a seat in District 17 is a difficult road for a Republican. Zellers said he thinks momentum is building to propel a candidate like himself into a seat, particularly with support from independents and disenfranchised Democrats.
“It’s always going to be a struggle in this district,” he said. “What we have to do is never give up the struggle, because one day — and it’s going to be this year; I believe it’s going to be this year — we can take our district back again. ... It’s always a pendulum swing with the election cycles, and I definitely see momentum is building on our side.”
The deadline for candidates to file with the Board of Elections is Feb. 25. As of Tuesday, seven candidates had filed to run for three seats in the House, including incumbent Delegates Kumar P. Barve and James W. Gilchrist. Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons has filed to run for Senate.