If health insurance isn’t important, why would receiving a letter telling you that you need to change your plan be a tragedy that can get you on Fox News nearly immediately?
Republicans have seized on the millions cancelations of current plans happening as a result of the Affordable Care Act remaking the individual insurance market, which currently offers the worst customer satisfaction of any type of health coverage.
By glorifying these “horror” stories, which have often turned out to be overinflated at worst and actual Affordable Care Act (ACA) success stories at best, Republicans are sending a clear message to Americans: We must defend the sanctity of health insurance.
This powerful theme is extremely opportune, as long as cancelation notices are contradicting a promise the president made, Healthcare.gov is flagging and the ACA’s paid enrollment numbers are low. However, it becomes much more complicated as the site starts working and 2014 begins with millions of people enjoying health care coverage and subsidies that the GOP would be voting to take away.
This would effectively doom the “repeal” strategy Republicans have fixated on for years, argues Salon’s Brian Beutler:
Obamacare is driving policy cancelations right now, but it at least creates a coverage guarantee for those affected. Repeal without replace would impose a greater burden without providing any counterweight.
If they pass the Keep Your Health Plan Act this week, House Republicans will see their stylized sympathy for people whose policies have been canceled come into tension with their explicit desire to take Obamacare benefits away from many of the same people, and millions more.
Becoming the party that opposes all cancelations of insurance policies also completely undermines any Republican “plan” that might be an alternative to the ACA. “Such a starting position would make true market-oriented reform impossible,” explains The Washington Examiner‘s Philip Klein.
John McCain’s health care plan, one part of his platform conservatives love, would have ended health care tax exemptions for employers and employees. This would have likely resulted in millions and millions of Americans ending up in new plans. The Republican Study Committee has offered a “serious” Obamacare alternative that would try to end the system of employer-based health care, disrupting the current health care system far more than the ACA does.
Even as Republicans are vindictively leaping on any cancelation story, other right-wing groups are trying to spread the idea to people in their 20s to #optout of the ACA, even though millions of younger Americans can get coverage for free. One Koch-funded group, Generation Opportunity, brought its scary Uncle Sam and some models to tailgate before the University of Miami-Virginia Tech football game to let the students know that opting out of health insurance is, as the kids say, cool.
So health insurance is lame and having it changed in any way whatsoever is the greatest atrocity an American can be expected to suffer.
Republicans have been fine with these kinds of contradictions throughout President Obama’s time in office. The deficit suddenly became a problem on January 21, 2009. Tea Partiers demanded that we get our gubmint hands off their Medicare. The GOP won the House by campaigning against cuts to Medicare that they then included in Paul Ryan’s budget.
But there is evidence that efforts to actually take something away from Americans results in a substantial backlash.
The wave of voting restrictions across the South after the 2010 election was mostly blocked by the federal courts empowered by a Voting Rights Act that had not yet been gutted. But Republicans did successfully restrict early voting in the crucial swing states of Ohio and Florida. Despite this, or as a result of it, African-American turnout hit an all-time high in the 2012 election.
North Carolina passed some of the most radical voting restrictions on students in the nation and local Republicans specifically attempted to block Elizabeth City State University senior Montravias King from running for city council where he was attending college. Their efforts backfired.
Students must have figured: If voting weren’t important, why would Republicans be doing everything they can to stop me from doing it?
In only 10 states, 444,000 people have already signed up for Medicaid. The fact that the GOP would deny them and about five million more poor people health insurance isn’t big news for a couple of reasons.
First, they’re poor. Second, these people haven’t had anything taken away from them — yet.
But on January 1, the story changes. Suddenly Republicans will be trying to do exactly what they’re accusing President Obama of: taking away health insurance with nothing to replace it. And thanks to the GOP, now it’s clear what a terrible thing that is to do to a person.
Screenshot via Generation Opportunity’s YouTube Channel