Koch brothers thrive on healthcare confusion

Updated
 

Earlier this week, Reince Priebus, commenting on the Affordable Care Act, said, “People know what Obamacare is. It’s European, socialist-style type health care.” The quote struck me as fairly hilarious because the second sentence helps debunk the first – anyone who thinks the federal U.S. system is in anyway similar to European, socialist-style type health care clearly has no idea what “Obamacare” is.

The truth is, most Americans remain confused about the basics, and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity apparently hope to make matters much worse on purpose.

Last month, AFP invested $1 million in support of a remarkably dishonest ad campaign, hoping to mislead Americans about the health care system, and this week, the right-wing group is at it again, making a six-figure ad buy in support of a radio ad.

The problem, of course, is that the message of the ad is pure garbage. Salon called it the “stupidest anti-Obamacare campaign ever,” and given some of the advertising in recent years, that’s no small claim.

The spot features a woman voice that tells listeners, “Two years ago, my son Caleb began having seizures … if we can’t pick our own doctor, how do I know my family is going to get the care they need?”

In reality, there’s simply nothing in the Affordable Care Act that stops consumers from choosing their own doctor. Literally, not one provision. Under a variety of HMOs, there are limits on out-of-network physicians, but that was an American norm long before “Obamacare” came around.

For that matter, if you’re a parent of a kid with seizures, the Affordable Care Act is perhaps the best friend you’ve ever had – not only does the law protect you and your family’s coverage, but it extends protections to those with pre-existing conditions, and ends annual and lifetime caps. And since treating children with seizures can get a little pricey, that’s important.

So why are the Koch brothers saying largely the opposite? Because they hope to use deceptions to scare people. It’s as simple as that.

Greg Sargent highlighted the other most obvious misleading claim.

[P]erhaps the most revealing thing of all is the ad’s warning of public confusion about the law. To buttress the impression that the ad is a catastrophe, the ad claims: “ABC News says confusion and doubt are prognosis for Obamcare.”

And it’s true: The ABC News article in question does bear that headline. But the article actually presents this not as a sign that the law itself is flawed, but as a sign that the public remains ignorant about what’s actually in it. The article is about how many Americans, even those who stand to gain from the law, are not yet aware of its benefits.

This neatly underscores the game plan behind ads like these: spread confusion about the law – in a deliberate effort to prevent folks from learning what’s actually in it – while simultaneously citing confusion about the law as evidence that it’s a disaster in hopes that folks will give up on it.

If Obamacare were really as horrible as right-wing activists and lawmakers claim, shouldn’t it be easier to attack the law without making stuff up? Wouldn’t conservatives be eager to simply give people the truth, rather than resort to ugly demagoguery?

Careful, Kochs, your desperation is showing.

Koch Brothers, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare and AFP

Koch brothers thrive on healthcare confusion

Updated