The differences between President Obama and Mitt Romney on health care are stark: the former wants to implement the Affordable Care Act; the latter intends to destroy it. Obama wants to protect the benefits already in place; Romney promises to kill those benefits and replace them with an alternative plan he refuses to explain.
And while many Americans may still see the politics of health care as an abstraction, CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen highlights a fascinating group of people who generally aren’t part of the conversation: Republican voters who don’t like Obama, but who’ve come to appreciate Obamacare.
Jill Thacker was dying for a cup of coffee when she recently ran into a 7-Eleven convenience store. To her pleasant surprise, the coffee was free – as long as she would commit to drinking it in either a red Mitt Romney cup or a blue Barack Obama cup.
“Which are you going to choose, Mom?” her son asked.
Which, indeed. A gun-owning, big-government-hating Republican, Thacker’s every instinct told her to buy a Romney cup. But Thacker, 56, and her daughter have asthma – a pre-existing condition – and with Obama as president they’ll be guaranteed the ability to buy insurance.
Thacker stood in the 7-Eleven and stared at the red and blue cups, stymied by the choice they represented.
One candidate would move the nation to the right. The other candidate would help her and her family breathe. Decisions, decisions.
In this case, Floridian Jill Thacker doesn’t like the president, but she picked up the blue cup anyway. “[F]or me, it’s all about health care,” she said. “It’s my number one thing.”
To be sure, the evidence is anecdotal, and it’s almost impossible to quantify how many Republicans will end up crossing over and backing the president over health care.
But it certainly adds a wrinkle that hasn’t existed before. What will Republicans parents do if they know their kids will lose coverage if the Affordable Care Act is eliminated? What will Republican seniors do if they know they’ll pay more for prescription medication if the law is repealed? What will Republicans with pre-existing conditions do if they realize how screwed they are in the future unless Obamacare is left intact?
CNN’s report also highlighted Jon Campbell, a 49-year-old Kansan whose wife has diabetes and is in treatment for breast cancer, and whose stepdaughter has coverage because of the Affordable Care Act. He said, “I’m really torn. Because of Obama, I now have a wife who can get covered. But really, at heart, I’m a limited-government kind of guy.”
If the election were today, he’d support the president, against his partisan instincts. “It’s really an intriguing conundrum,” Campbell said.
Yes, actually, it is.
I’m reminded of something we talked about in August, on the question I want to ask these folks who are so eager to turn back the clock on health care: are you sure?
Before we undo the breakthrough law, a century in the making, are you at all concerned that maybe, just maybe, you or someone close to you might actually want the Affordable Care Act to be in place? Do you think it’s possible you might wake up one day with regret, thinking, “On second thought, maybe those protections would have been good for me and my family?”
How confident are you that you’ll be better off once the reforms are destroyed? Will Americans have a more secure future if the law is repealed or it’s fully implemented?
Have you really thought this through, or do you hate Obamacare because you’ve been told to hate Obamacare?