Ignorance is the GOP’s friend

By Rod Haxton, editor

You may be familiar with the Michigan woman who was the “star” of a Koch brothers anti-Obamacare commercial who said she “was doing fairly well fighting the cancer, fighting the leukemia, and then I received a letter. My insurance was canceled because of Obamacare. Now, the out-of-pocket costs are so high, it’s unaffordable.”

Unfortunately, the only thing that was true about Julie Boonstra’s claim is that she is fighting leukemia.

Thanks to Obamacare, she now has a health insurance plan that has reduced her out-of-pocket costs by $1,200 a year and her annual premiums by $6,400. The maximum that Boonstra will pay for health insurance (i.e., cancer treatment) is $11,952 per year.

A great deal, right?

Just don’t tell Boonstra, who confidently declared that the savings “can’t be true.”

“I personally do not believe that,” Boonstra said.

What’s mind-boggling about this story is that even when presented with the hard numbers . . . you know, math . . . Boonstra would rather believe the propaganda that has been spewed non-stop by far too many Republicans and Fox News. Even when they’re wrong, they’re still right, in the mind of Boonstra.

This isn’t an isolated instance. We can stay right here in Scott County and find a similar instance involving an individual (true story) who had no insurance and needs surgery, but couldn’t afford to have the procedure because she didn’t have the $8,000 advance payment that was required.

She’s in her late 40s, has a part-time job and doesn’t qualify for health insurance through her employer.

“So I had to sign up for Obamacare,” she told a friend.

She didn’t make that admission out of relief but out of anger. She was being “forced” to sign up for health insurance she couldn’t otherwise afford which would allow her to have surgery that otherwise wouldn’t happen.

There were no medical questions and no threat of refusal for pre-existing conditions. For $70 a month she can now get the surgery that she needs. At $70 a month, it will be 9-1/2 years before this individual pays the $8,000 that was going to be required of her before Obamacare.

And she won’t have to wait 9-1/2 years for the operation.

Without Obamacare, had her health eventually reached the point that surgery was unavoidable, her response was “the hospital will have to write me off.”

That’s apparently what Congressman Tim Heulskamp means when he says “there’s free health care all over the place.”

Despite what Obamacare means to her personally, this individual was still resentful.

So is it the idea of insurance that people resent, or that Obama is behind it?

The answer to that may be found in Kentucky which voted for Mitt Romney in the last presidential election, 60-38. Hardly a blue state.

Nonetheless, more than 370,000 Kentucky residents have signed up for Kynect, the state’s health insurance program. The number of uninsured Kentucky residents has been reduced by 40 percent.

It’s proof that, when given an option, Kentucky residents (and probably many other people around the country) will sign up for a health insurance plan as long as it’s not Obamacare complete with its death panels and socialist strings attached.

During the Kentucky State Fair there was a booth where people could learn more about Kynect. One man, who was impressed with what he was hearing, muttered to one of the workers, “This beats Obamacare, I hope.”

Well, not exactly.

It was Obamacare.

Kentucky’s governor (a Democrat) was astutely aware that Obamacare could work in his state, but the branding had been pretty badly mangled by Republicans. He offered the same program with different packaging and the people apparently liked what they saw.

But, had they been told afterwards it was really Obamacare they had signed up for there would likely have been echoes of Boonstra saying it “can’t be true.”

The trick is in getting people to hear beyond the rhetoric and make a decision about what’s best for them and their family. The Koch brothers, Karl Rove, Fox News, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Pat Roberts don’t care whether the family making $20,000 a year can’t afford health insurance. It has no bearing on their lives at all when someone has to declare bankruptcy because of huge medical bills.

They can make misleading statements about Obamacare and pay no consequence because they’ve done such an effective job of selling their brand of propaganda.

Kentucky residents showed what can happen when preconceived rhetoric is not part of the equation. Unfortunately, conservative Republicans in our state legislatures and in Congress know that their strongest ally is an ignorant public.

As Jack Nicholson declared in “A Few Good Men” when sitting at the witness stand, “You can’t handle the truth.”

The problem for too many people is that they don’t want to know the truth.

Rod Haxton can be reached at editor@screcord.com

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