May 8, 2014
Obamacare definitely has winners and losers, but for some reason Republicans have trouble finding the losers. Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post walked through two more would be horror stories in Wednesday's fact checker: Sen. Rand Paul argued that for every one Obamacare enrollment in his state, 40 plans were cancelled, and a Nebraska woman worried that her premiums would go up (they didn't). Despite raising legitimate concerns some people have had — cancelled policies and higher premiums, often for more comprehensive insurance — Republicans still struggle to find people who have actually been inconvenienced.
In his May 2 newsletter, Rand Paul asked people to share their Obamacare stories, noting that "for every Kentuckian who has enrolled in Obamacare, 40 have been dropped from their coverage." Politifact rated this lie "pants on fire," since the 82,795 people enrolled in private plans and 330,615 enrolled in Medicaid. It's estimated that 130,000 to 168,000 plans were cancelled, though many of those individuals were re-enrolled into new plans.
Acknowledging that not everyone enrolled in Medicaid because of Obamacare (they might have already been eligible), Paul's 40-to-1 ratio is still absurd. Paul's spokesman Brian Darling told the Post that the figure was outdated: it compared 7,000 private plan enrollees as of November 2013 to 280,000 private and small group plan cancellations. Given that, by some estimates, Obamacare cut Kentucky's uninsured level by 40 percent, Kentucky might not be the best place to look for horror stories.
And apparently Nebraska isn't too great either — mother of two Andrea Kodad appeared in an ad for Republican Rep. Lee Terry and said her premium would rise about $300 because of Obamacare. As it turns out, the administration's Keep Your Plan fix applied to her. A Terry spokesperson told the Post that that was her reality at the time, and “Obamacare is creating that kind of uncertainty." Uncertainty is another big concern detractors of the law have pointed to. For instance, Julie Boonstra, a Michigan woman with cancer, appeared in Americans for Prosperity ads in March arguing that her new out of pocket costs were "unaffordable" because they were less predictable. Of course, she was saving $1,200 a year.
More often than not, the most prominent Obamacare horror stories end with the star being, at least in some ways, better off than before. The "Obamacare raped my future" woman who actually qualified for Medicaid and the woman whose premium went up 994 percent, until you acknowledged that her old plan covered next to nothing and she was eligible for subsidies, both stand out as strong examples. The stories fall apart under the slightest scrutiny.
Meanwhile, efforts to seek out horror stories haven't always ended well. Florida Gov. Rick Scott couldn't find any senior citizens who'd been significantly affected by the health care law's Medicare Advantage cuts. Senate hopeful Scott Brown ran into a Republican Obamacare success story while disparaging Obamacare. It's not that there aren't people out there who have been negatively affected by the law, but Obamacare's staunchest opponents are having a hard time finding them.
May 8, 2014