Fake Right Wing Claims Of Losers Under The Affordable Care Act

Last week I looked at the right wing’s inability to present losers under Obamacare. There certainly are some losers in a major overhaul of the healthcare system, however they just don’t help the Republicans with their line of attack. The losers, i.e. people paying more in premiums, are affluent Americans who don’t qualify for subsidies but, as I pointed out in the previous post, we still receive significant improvements in coverage to offset higher premiums which we can afford to pay. The types of people the Republicans portray as losers to gain sympathy for their argument have repeatedly been shown to not be losers under Obamacare once the facts are revealed. Anybody with serious medical problems such as cancer is far better off since the Affordable Care Act was passed, regardless of how the Republicans try to twist the facts.

Paul Krugman revisited this issue today, comparing the false claims of losers under the Affordable Care Act to the right wing claims of non-wealthy people being losers under the “death tax.” Krugman wrote:

I’m not sure whether conservatives realize yet that their Plan A on health reform — wait for Obamacare’s inevitable collapse, and reap the political rewards — isn’t working. But it isn’t. Enrollments have recovered strongly from the law’s disastrous start-up; in California, which had a working website from the beginning, enrollment has already exceeded first-year projections. The mix of people signed up so far is older than planners had hoped, but not enough so to cause big premium hikes, let alone the often-predicted “death spiral.”

And conservatives don’t really have a Plan B — in their world, nobody even dares mention the possibility that health reform might actually prove workable. Still, you can already see some on the right groping toward a new strategy, one that relies on highlighting examples of the terrible harm Obamacare does. There’s only one problem: they haven’t managed to come up with any real examples. Consider several recent ventures on the right:

■ In the official G.O.P. response to the State of the Union address, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers alluded to the case of “Bette in Spokane,” who supposedly lost her good health insurance coverage and was forced to pay nearly $700 more a month in premiums. Local reporters located the real Bette, and found that the story was completely misleading: her original policy provided very little protection, and she could get a much better plan for much less than the claimed cost.

■ In Louisiana, the AstroTurf (fake grass-roots) group Americans for Prosperity — the group appears to be largely financed and controlled by the Koch brothers and other wealthy donors — has been running ads targeting Senator Mary Landrieu. In these ads, we see what appear to be ordinary Louisiana residents receiving notices telling them that their insurance policies have been canceled because of Obamacare. But the people in the ads are, in fact, paid actors, and the scenes they play aren’t re-enactments of real events — they’re “emblematic,” says a spokesman for the group.

■ In Michigan, Americans for Prosperity is running an ad that does feature a real person. But is she telling a real story? In the ad, Julia Boonstra, who is suffering from leukemia, declares that her insurance has been canceled, that the new policy will have unaffordable out-of-pocket costs, and that “If I do not receive my medication, I will die.” But Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post tried to check the facts, and learned that thanks to lower premiums she will almost surely save nearly as much if not more than she will be paying in higher out-of-pocket costs. A spokesman for Americans for Prosperity responded to questions about the numbers with bluster and double-talk — this is about “a real person suffering from blood cancer, not some neat and tidy White House PowerPoint.”

Even supporters of health reform are somewhat surprised by the right’s apparent inability to come up with real cases of hardship. Surely there must be some people somewhere actually being hurt by a reform that affects millions of Americans. Why can’t the right find these people and exploit them?

The most likely answer is that the true losers from Obamacare generally aren’t very sympathetic. For the most part, they’re either very affluent people affected by the special taxes that help finance reform, or at least moderately well-off young men in very good health who can no longer buy cheap, minimalist plans. Neither group would play well in tear-jerker ads.

No, what the right wants are struggling average Americans, preferably women, facing financial devastation from health reform. So those are the tales they’re telling, even though they haven’t been able to come up with any real examples.

Even the healthy young people are able to buy catastrophic insurance policies which, once subsidies are considered, will often cost less then their current minimalist plans.

Cross posted at The Moderate Voice

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  1. 1
    David Duff says:

    For example, if Paul Krugman read the paper he writes for, he would have heard about Mike Horrigan, a lifelong Democrat and a former Obamacare supporter. As the New York Times wrote in December, Horrigan’s “coverage by a state high-risk insurance program was eliminated, then replaced by a more expensive plan. His wife’s individual plan was canceled for being substandard, then suddenly renewed — also at a higher price.””

    The Times of New York also brought out the story of Barbara Meinwald, whose temporary plan with fewer doctors would cost her $5,000 more a year. “Meinwald also looked on the state’s health insurance exchange,”  Anemonia Hartocollis writes, “but she said she found that those plans did not have a good choice of doctors, and that it was hard to even find out who the doctors were, and which hospitals were covered.””
    “The Washington Post, for example, writes about Obamacare’s “biggest losers” who had their plans canceled but could not access the health exchange to get another plan in time. One man, John Gisler, was forced to look outside the exchange, forgoing thousands of dollars in subsidies, because the plan for his son with a rare degenerative disease was canceled and he could not access HealthCare.gov to buy a new one in time.”

    The Los Angeles Times writes about many people who have fared badly under Obamacare, including Jennifer Harris, whose old plan was canceled and who found the cheapest alternative under Obamacare is nearly 243 percent more than her old one.”
    All impeccably Left-wing, Democrat-supporting newspapers.  Presumably Krugman doesn’t read his own paper!

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Your examples do nothing to contradict Krugman’s article. Once again you cherry pick stories of questionable validity to support your views. Journalists were fooled at first, but are learning that they need to do more than listen to what somebody says as the facts often turn out to be quite different. There is good reason that the Republicans keep looking for new examples as these didn’t hold up for them. They typically ignore the effects of the subsidies, all the available choices, and differences in plans. People with garbage plans will pay more–and many people did not realize how bad their plans were as that only becomes apparent when they develop real medical problems.

    The claims of plans not having a good choice of doctors have turned out to be false once we got to January and found that those scare stories didn’t hold up.

    The high-risk plans have been very expensive compared to current plans available under the Affordable Care Act. Plus these high risk plans were temporary plans set up under the Affordable Care Act so this is not a real comparison to rates without the Affordable Care Act. The claim of not being able to buy a new plan in time doesn’t make any sense. First of all the deadline for January was extended to enable people to still get coverage. Healthcare.gov was available if he really tried. Even if there was a reason he couldn’t, the open enrollment period has not ended. Worst case scenario would have been to get a more expensive plan for January and then get a cheaper plan from the exchanges starting February 1.

    You are actually providing evidence in support of the Affordable Care Act. So his son’s plan was cancelled. In the past he probably would have been out of luck. Now he will probably wind up with a more comprehensive plan at a lower price.

    This is a losing battle for you. The way that the individual market was in the past compared to the reforms made we are not going to see the type of horror stories which the Republicans are seeking. Millions of people are better off–there is zero doubt as to that. A small number are worse off in the sense of paying higher premiums but, as I pointed out in my previous post on this topic, we are still getting much better coverage in return for higher premium which we can afford. The higher premiums will only be 243 percent higher if the old plan was total garbage–which was often the case.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    As for the media, moving beyond the fact that The Washington Post has moved quite a bit to the right in recent years, there are not Democratic-supporting newspapers in the sense that there are Republican media outlets. Newspapers such as The New York Times which have a liberal editorial page do not use the news section to promote their views the way that the right wing does.

    The real media “bias” in mainstream media is not left versus right but a lot of other factors, such as newspaper reporters trying to find more sensational stories. Stories about millions of people getting better insurance at a lower price are not as sexy as finding people who were hurt by a new program, regardless of which party is in power. This bias for more sensational stories led to stories such as these getting published as reporters were willing to believe what they were told even though they weren’t being told all the facts. Many of these claims just don’t make sense as I pointed out above but the journalists involved did not know enough about health insurance to see through the obviously bogus claims.

  4. 4
    David Duff says:

    “there are not Democratic-supporting newspapers in the sense that there are Republican media outlets. Newspapers such as The New York Times which have a liberal editorial page do not use the news section to promote their views the way that the right wing does. ”
    Yeeeeeeeees, quite, if you say so, Ron, but I wish I had known you ‘back in the day’ when I was flogging my old second-hand bits of shrapnel for – natch! – inflated prices because if you believe that, you will believe anything!

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    No doubt you believe the right wing nonsense about liberal media bias. (Not that none exists, but not in the way the right wing claims.)

    “because if you believe that, you will believe anything!”
    You are in quite a weak position to throw around statement like that considering how frequently you have made claims in comments here which are factually untrue based upon right wing misinformation which is debunked with a minimal amount of fact checking or knowledge of the subject.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    You even disproved your own idea about the “liberal media” when you found articles in liberal newspapers reporting alleged problems with the Affordable Care Act. Fox would never have contradicted its editorial position in their “news” shows in this manner as at Fox there is no real distinction between editorial and news as at The New York Times.

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