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February 02, 2014 10:37 PM G.O.P. lies about Obamacare, part the infinite

By Kathleen Geier

Krugman makes a good catch. Remember “Bette in Spokane,” the woman who was mentioned in the Republican response to the State of the Union address, who supposedly has to pay $700 more a month for her health insurance after her old policy was canceled because of Obamacare?

I hope this news doesn’t make you fall off your chair in shock, but guess what? It turns out that, strictly speaking, the story the Republicans told about Bette was not — what is the word I’m looking for here? — true:

Sure enough, when a local newspaper, The Spokesman-Review, contacted Bette Grenier, it discovered that the real story was very different from the image Ms. McMorris Rodgers conveyed. First of all, she was comparing her previous policy with one of the pricier alternatives her insurance company was offering — and she refused to look for cheaper alternatives on the Washington insurance exchange, declaring, “I wouldn’t go on that Obama website.”
Even more important, all Ms. Grenier and her husband had before was a minimalist insurance plan, with a $10,000 deductible, offering very little financial protection. So yes, the new law requires that they spend more, but they would get far better coverage in return.

How dare the Republicans exploit, for their own nefarious purposes, a woman who has the excellent taste to spell her name the same way as one of my favorite classic Hollywood actresses?

Most of the rest of Krugman’s column deals with the current state of the ACA which, he says, is looking pretty good. Enrollments in the health care exchanges appear to have recovered following the disastrous start they got after the fiasco of the HealthCare.gov roll-out. And most health care companies are saying the risk pool isn’t any worse than expected.

However, there’s one thing of which we can be certain — the Republicans will never stop lying about Obamacare! If there is anyone in America who is unhappy about their health insurance, the G.O.P. will spare no effort to track down that person. And if they can find some way, any way, to attribute that person’s problem to Obamacare, they will surely do so.

In my more optimistic moments, I even allow myself to hope against hope that if everyone really did start blaming the government for problems with their health care, that might not be such a bad thing. If it becomes a widespread perception that it’s the government’s job to fix health care, then maybe, just maybe … our elected officials will have a real incentive to fix health care. They might even start feeling enough pressure that they decide to reform health care so that it more closely resembles the most effective, least costly health care system out there: single payer.

Yeah, I know, that’s crazy talk. But Republicans might want to think twice about their strategy of continuing to pin every failure in health care insurance or coverage on the government. They may unwittingly be strengthening the case for a smaller, not bigger, role for the free market in health insurance, and for more government involvement in health care, not less.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee

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