ASHEVILLE – U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan on Friday did not waiver in her support for the Affordable Care Act, saying reaching 7.1 million enrollments shows President Barack Obama's healthcare law is important to many people.
She was in Asheville to announce a $1 million loan to business-lending nonprofit Mountain BizWorks. The loan comes from the federal Small Business Administration.
Buncombe County commissioners approved $50,000 to go to the nonprofit as a required match for $300,000 from the loan fund.
Hagan has taken fire from conservatives for her support for the healthcare law, also known as Obamacare. Enrollment closed March 31. Those who did not enroll, and do not have insurance, could face penalties.
The law, which mandates health insurance, has been unpopular in North Carolina.
A poll in February by High Point University and the Greensboro News & Record found 54 percent of people disapprove of the law though 57 percent say it will improve access.
Hagan said reaching the 7 million benchmark, which was the Congressional Budget Office's initial projection, shows the law is important.
"Now there are certain common sense fixes that need to be made to this law and I am certainly working on that but I also think that people in North Carolina don't want to see us go back to a time that if you have a preexisting condition, if you have a child with diabetes, that you won't be able to get health coverage," she said. "And we do not want to go back to that time, or a time where women automatically paid more for their coverage than men. And currently now our seniors are paying thousands of dollars less in prescription drug coverage than they were before."
The North Carolina Republican Party said Hagan was out of touch.
"Kay Hagan thinks Obamacare is a success even though nearly half a million North Carolinians received cancellation notices and hardworking families are struggling with skyrocketing premiums and burdensome mandates," said party spokesman Daniel Keylin. "Instead of siding with middle-class families and small businesses over the last five years, Hagan has voted for President Obama's liberal agenda 96 percent of the time."
Hagan on Friday night planned to attend a party at state Sen.-elect Terry Van Duyn's home.
Van Duyn won the special election Thursday to fill the unexpired term of the late Sen. Martin Nesbitt, who Hagan served with in the state Senate.
"I'm very excited for Terry and I look forward to seeing her tonight," Hagan said.
Hagan said she's confident in her campaign.
She faces the winner of a crowded GOP primary. State House Speaker Thom Tillis is among frontrunners in that race.
"I certainly see it is going to be a contrast between what's taking place in Raleigh and some of my opponents and how they are putting forward a special interest fringe agenda, for example tax cuts for the wealthy when our teachers get no raises," she said. "I am supporting, and putting North Carolinians first, and its about jobs and our economic recovery, just like we are seeing here today how important it is to help people on the ground in North Carolina."
USA Today contributed.