"On March 1, I had to go the ER. They found my hemoglobin level was 5.7, and the normal is 14. I needed a transfusion. It was due to a rare blood disorder. "Where would I be without Obamacare? ER, 3 units of blood, multiple tests in the hospital and a 5-day inpatient stay without insurance? Probably dead. "I have to thank Obamacare for saving my life."
For months, "Obamacare horror stories" were in high demand -- sought after by news organizations, lawmakers, and well-funded conservative groups desperate to run attack ads. That most of these anecdotes turned out to be wrong was an inconvenient detail for opponents of the Affordable Care Act.
But in practical terms, for every alleged "loser" under the ACA, there are 10 "winners" whose stories are effectively invisible.
That may be slowly changing. CNNMoney ran a compelling feature today, highlighting five Americans "thankful for Obamacare coverage." The first was Kathy Bentzoni of Slatington, Pennsylvania, who dropped her old plan in November because she could no longer afford it. She then signed up through the ACA for a good plan -- that can't be taken away from her, unlike the old days -- that will cost her $55 a month.
And it's a good thing Bentzoni had that coverage when she needed it.
Now, as Kevin Drum noted, the right may argue that Bentzoni could have gone to the emergency room anyway, and we all would have shouldered the cost (conservatives are comfortable with socialized coverage, just so long as it's incredibly costly and inefficient). But the truth is, those without insurance often don't even go to the ER, fearing financial ruin, or they wait too long, with tragic consequences.
The piece featured four other success stories that just as encouraging, at least among those who want to see the American system succeed. But as a political matter, the piece raises two related questions.
First, why aren't these anti-horror stories blanketing the airwaves the way the misleading attack ads are? The answer, as we discussed the other day, is that there's no progressive financing in place to make it happen. As Paul Begala put it, "There simply is no liberal Koch operation."
Second, reading the anecdotes about those who see "Obamacare" as a lifesaver, I continue to wonder how long Republicans intend to stick to their repeal crusade. In fact, I'm eager to see just how many GOP candidates this year intend to run around telling voters like Kathy Bentzoni that their top goal is to take away her health care coverage, leaving her with nothing.
Indeed, as millions of Americans get insured thanks to the ACA, the salience of the Republican line crumbles to a point of no recovery.