Sunday, February 16, 2014

What isn't so

Irrationality at large

“It ain't ignorance causes so much trouble; it's folks knowing so much that ain't so.” —Josh Billings

The local affiliate of Salem Communications broadcasts a short news break just before the hour. Sometimes I tune it in just before punching the button for a more mainstream station's top-of-the-hour newscast. These occasional doses of right-wing media keep me informed on what the nut-case fringe is saying, and it can be enlightening. Recently, while driving to school in the early morning, I tuned in the Salem station and heard its newscaster's report, “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that the Obama administration's healthcare act will cost the nation's economy two-point-three million jobs in the next dozen years.”

It was startling news. My first thought: That's a lie. I was considering the source. By the end of the day, I had discovered the truth. The full implementation of ObamaCare would pick the so-called “job-lock” and free people who had been forced to stay in jobs they hated simply to preserve their health benefits. The CBO estimated that over two million people would be able to give up their second (or third!) jobs, scaling back to something less burdensome without running the risk of losing health insurance. In many cases, it would presumably enable parents to spend more time at home with children, which is something Republicans also support as long as it's merely theoretical.

And, as we have already seen, the GOP will repeat the “job-killing” claim at the top of their lungs all during the 2014 election campaign. Will this be the year that it doesn't work because they've cried “wolf” much too often already? If so, I look forward to their being devoured.

Ignorance is not a mysterious thing. All of us have it in abundance, even as we whittle away at it during our lives. What we have been seeing, however, to a greater degree in recent years than I can recall in previous decades of politician-watching, is the deliberate nurturing of ignorance, the creation of fake knowledge (like an inoculation?) to keep people from absorbing genuine knowledge. The right-wing propagandists have raised this to a high art.

It was just a few years ago that I was in Texas during the summer to visit some friends who had moved from California. The matriarch of the clan was concerned about the state of the national economy and confided her worries to me. Knowing that I had been a legislative staffer in Sacramento and assuming I still had some insight into such matters, she wanted to know if there was any chance that the U.S. Congress would “fix” matters by repealing ObamaCare. “If only they could get rid of it, the national debt problem would be solved!” She really believed that (and had never heard about the CBO analysis that determined ObamaCare would reduce the nation's annual deficits).

She also had Fox News playing in the den during every waking hour. She wasn't uninformed. She was massively misinformed.

Quite recently one of my nieces became one of the president's hapless victims. She wasn't quiet about it. ObamaCare had forced her to change doctors (which, you know, never happened when insurance companies ran the world) and “Becky” was furious:
Becky feeling annoyed

So... I am so disgusted in Obama!!!! My insurance plan disappeared because it was not OBAMA approved. So instead of having basic insurance and paying cash for my dental and vision and paying $300 for my family. So now I am being forced to go to Covered California and pay $250 with the state paying $250 and putting my kids on medical. How does make any sense!!!!!!
After reading her plaintive post on Facebook, I pointed out a little bit of reality (cribbed from my blog post on same):
Your insurance company did not have to cancel your policy. It decided that it wanted to do it despite language in the healthcare act that permits individuals to maintain existing policies. It's in Section 1251 of the Affordable Healthcare Act:

SEC. 1251. PRESERVATION OF RIGHT TO MAINTAIN EXISTING COVERAGE. (a) NO CHANGES TO EXISTING COVERAGE.(1) IN GENERAL.—Nothing in this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) shall be construed to require that an individual terminate coverage under a group health plan or health insurance coverage in which such individual was enrolled on the date of enactment of this Act.

What the act did not do, however, was mandate that the insurance companies keep offering the plans people wanted to keep, and many companies have grabbed the chance to cancel lots of policies. They didn't have to. They wanted to. The administration should have anticipated this and blocked it, which would have given some teeth to the president's you-can-keep-it pledge.

I might as well been hollering into a dry well. Some of Becky's Tea Party buddies chimed in. Here’s a couple:
Sadie: I hated him before this - but we had all sorts of trouble getting coverage because of Joeys pre existing condition - even though that wasnt ment to be taken into consideration. Its a joke and a very bad one.

Sadie refused to recognize that the ACA is what made her husband’s pre-existing condition irrelevant. It was all the fault of the hated president, who was daring to occupy the White House while black.
Gertrude: All the people that voted for him owe the rest of us working people an apology !!!

Don't hold your breath, Gertie!

And here’s my niece again, for the big finish!
Becky: To privately cover my family would now cost me $800-$1000 per month with a $4000 deductible. That is ridiculous.

So Becky points out that private health insurance is damned expensive. As much as a thousand per month, with a high deductible. Wow! Instead of like before, when her bare-bones insurance plan cost her $300 (as mentioned above). Now, of course, under Covered California, she’ll pay $250 for a $500 policy. Hurray? No! That's only because she's also getting a $250 subsidy, and that’s (apparently) awful and humiliating! Like welfare!

Sounds like ObamaCare worked to her advantage, although there is the aggravation of having to choose a new primary care physician, since her old doctor was tied to the old plan and (I guess) is not available under the new. But saving $50 each month is sort of good, no? No! It’s communism! (Or something.)

Perhaps I'll get some sympathy when I tell my niece that I had to change health plans in order to keep the doctor I've had for several years as my primary care physician. When she gloats that I, too, am a victim of the Affordable Care Act, I'll mention it occurred before the measure was enacted. I was, instead, a victim of my college district's health insurance providers—back in those days when the insurance companies ran everything and the president had yet to drive us from health-insurance paradise.


Holms said...

You may think that your situation is weird and / or ridiculous, but I can assure you that it looks even more so from across the Pacific, where Australia has had universal health care for longer than I have been alive.

I cannot get over the fact that there are actually people that think government health care will be more expensive / worse than the private stuff, given the shit that people have had to endure under the private companies. Not to mention the plain fact that anything run by a for-profit company is going to be more expensive than if run by the government, what with that profit margin and all.

evlunclbud said...

Zeno, as a math professor, you must be disappointed at your niece's inability to perform simple arithmetic. I had to change doctors when Los Rios changed health care plans--would have had to anyway, since keeping my old one would have required me to go to fee for service--and I haven't looked back. ACA is making friends' lives easier, but Medicare Part E (for Everyone) would do even more.

The Ridger, FCD said...

If two million people quit their (second) jobs because they don't need to work, that's two million openings for somebody who does.

Sounds like a win to me.