One of the odder subplots of the health reform saga in the United States has been the almost pathetic efforts of Republicans to come up with horror stories related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
You might think that given the complexity of the law and the almost unlimited resources of the propaganda machine, they’d be able to come up with someone to serve as the poster child for the law’s terrible effects on innocent Americans.
But as far as I know, we have yet to see a single credible example – all the characters featured in Koch brothers ads or in GOP speeches have turned out to be potential beneficiaries of the law, if only they were willing to look at their actual options.
So Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, of Washington State, recently went on Facebook to ask for Obamacare horror stories – and instead got an avalanche of testimonials from people who received essential insurance and care thanks to the ACA.
Why can’t the GOP find the horror stories it knows – just knows – are out there? Matthew Yglesias at Vox gets at most of it by noting that Obamacare does, in fact, redistribute from the few to the many: “[O]ne of the main things it does is raise taxes rather dramatically on a pretty small number of high-income people in order to give subsidized health insurance policies to a substantially larger number of low-income people,” he wrote on March 26. “Indeed, this is one of the main things Republicans don’t like about it!”
But there’s a bit more to the story. Millionaires paying higher taxes aren’t the only people hurt, at least slightly, by the law.
If you are a young, healthy person (and especially if you’re male), living in a state that didn’t have community rating pre-Obamacare, you may have had a cheap policy that went up in price once the law went into effect; and if you’re affluent as well, you don’t receive subsidies to purchase insurance. So there are victims out there.
The problem for Republicans is that these people are the wrong kind of victims. What Republicans want are struggling, salt-of-the-earth Americans, preferably older and with expensive medical conditions – not healthy, well-paid guys in their 20s.
But the profile of the ideal Obamacare victim matches, pretty much exactly, the profile of the kind of person Obamacare was designed to help.
And the inability of the GOP to come up with true horror stories is, in its own way, a demonstration that the law is working as intended.