Since 2009, the opponents of healthcare reform have successfully circulated a lengthy roster of narratives and agitprop against the policy and, eventually, the Affordable Care Act itself. You know the list. "Death panels," "government takeover," "failed law," "socialized medicine," and so forth.
The latest is that the ACA is "Obama's Katrina," followed by the inevitable "Obama's Watergate" on Fox News Sunday over the weekend. Regarding the latter, I thought Benghazi, the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious and, I don't know, Solyndra were supposed to be Obama's Watergate(s). Sorry, folks. Repeatedly comparing every presidential scandal to Watergate will never change the reality of Nixon's dreadful, malevolent legacy.
The hilariously preposterous idea that the Affordable Care Act is "Obama's [Fill In Notorious Presidential Scandal Here]" is based almost entirely on one thing: the president's pledge that folks who like their health insurance plan can keep it. This is usually followed by a series of overblown, oftentimes dishoneststories about people receiving cancellation notices from their insurance providers allegedly due to the minimum requirements of the ACA. In some cases, this is, indeed, true. In other cases, such as cancellation notices from UnitedHealthcare are the stated result of simply abandoning the non-group insurance market.
Either way, yes, we can connect the ACA to many of the cancellations. Toss into the mix a temporarily problematic website, along with misleadingly reported enrollment numbers and there it is -- Obama's Katrina -- because those two (or "three") glitches in the system are somehow, in some universe, the equivalent of Katrina and the botched response to, you know, the most devastating hurricane in American history.
But let's confront these cancellations head on, since it's supposed to be, according to the perpetually insufferable Dana Milbank, "game over" for the Obama administration.
We've previously discussed in this column the various options available to everyone whose policy was canceled, so it's unnecessary to go down that road again, but, in a nutshell, every single canceled policy can be replaced with a new policy that's either less expensive, with significant consumer protections and improved coverage, or slightly more expensive, also with remarkably better coverage. This is a side effect of reforming a hopelessly broken healthcare system, and compared with the pre-ACA system no one will die or go broke because they had to switch to an ACA policy.
Nevetheless, yes, if the president and the Democratic Party are responsible for this turn of events, and if it's the equivalent of Katrina/Watergate/Iran-Contra/Lewinsky/Iraq/Plamegate/Teapot-Dome/Janet-Jackson's-Nipple, then what kind of metaphor should we manufacture to define what the Republican Party, commandeered by tea party extremists, wants to do to 40 million uninsured Americans?
Here's what's happening on the other side of the aisle:
--Contrary to news reports, nearly 1.5 million people have applied and been processed for an ACA insurance policy during the month of October. 500,000 have selected a plan. The Republicans who want to de-fund or entirely repeal the law would effectively cancel all of those policies, as well as millions of new policies purchased in the coming months.
--Along those lines, if the Republicans repeal or de-fund the law, 40 million Americans, including yours truly, will be prevented from receiving health insurance. This dwarfs the comparatively few cancellations due to Obamacare.
--In fact, many Republicans were so obsessively hell-bent on pre-emptively canceling 40 million policies that they went so far as to shut down the government and risked defaulting on the debt to accomplish this goal.
--Meanwhile, 25 Republican governors have decided to reject the expansion of Medicaid, preventing eight million Americans, who exist between 100 percent and 133 percent of the federal poverty level, from receiving health insurance. It's worth noting that the Medicaid expansion would cost those Republican-governed states nothing in the near term. Zero. In some states, the expansion would actually "see small net budget savings," according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Here are the governors responsible for blocking millions from receiving health insurance:
Alabama - Governor Robert Bentley, Republican
Alaska - Governor Sean Parnell, Republican
Florida - Governor Rick Scott, Republican
Georgia - Governor Nathan Deal, Republican
Idaho - Governor Butch Otter, Republican
Indiana - Governor Mike Pence, Republican
Kansas - Governor Sam Brownback, Republican
Louisiana - Governor Bobby Jindal, Republican
Maine - Governor Paul LePage, Republican
Mississippi - Governor Phil Bryant, Republican
Montana - Governor Steve Bullock, Democrat (GOP legislature blocked expansion.)
Nebraska - Governor Dave Heineman, Republican
North Carolina - Governor Pat McCrory, Republican
Oklahoma - Governor Mary Fallin, Republican
Pennsylvania - Governor Tom Corbitt, Republican
South Carolina - Governor Nikki Haley, Republican
South Dakota - Governor Dennis Daugaard, Republican
Tennessee - Governor Bill Haslam, Republican
Texas - Governor Rick Perry, Republican
Utah - Governor Gary Herbert, Republican
Virginia - Governor Bob McDonnell, Republican
Wisconsin - Governor Scott Walker, Republican
Wyoming - Governor Matt Mead, Republican
Together, this rogues gallery of governors is actively blocking health insurance for eight million Americans.
--And finally, if we revert to the old system via the repeal of the ACA, the health insurance industry will surely go back to engaging in rescission: canceling policies for dubious reasons, oftentimes while people are receiving or about to receive life-saving treatment.
So where's the rampant media outrage? Where's the finger pointing and Gate-suffixed memes about incompetence, scandal and cruelty? Again, if the Obama administration and congressional Democrats are to blame for the comparatively minor number of ACA-related cancellations, then where's all of the news media indignation over the GOP's crusade to strip affordable health insurance policies from tens of millions of Americans?
Months from now, when millions of Americans have ACA insurance policies they like, especially including many of the Americans whose pre-ACA policies were canceled this year, you can bet that the traditional news media won't have anything to say about the ceaseless Republican effort to block, de-fund or repeal -- to cancel -- those new policies. Nope. We won't see any cancer-stricken couples or struggling working-class moms on cable news talking about their ACA policies (which they like) in the context of the Republican Party trying to cancel those policies -- or, as the GOP has been doing for years, outright preventing Americans from attaining insurance in the first place. Instead, we'll only hear about whether the ACA's briefly turbulent roll-out will impact the 2014 and 2016 campaigns.
Because, you know, liberal media bias, etc.