The right’s most loathsome Obamacare lie yet

A congresswoman defends Americans' right to awful health insurance -- and shamefully misleads the public

Topics: Obamacare, Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Conservatism, Tea Party, Editor's Picks, ,

The right's most loathsome Obamacare lie yetRep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. (Credit: AP/Alex Brandon)

During congressional hearings with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., made an interesting argument that some Americans don’t want quality health insurance.  “Some people like to drive a Ford and not a Ferrari,” Blackburn asserted.  But that begs the question: What kind of Ford?

As early as 1972, there were reports that when a Ford Pinto was involved in a low-speed collision, the car would spontaneously burst into flames.  According to a 1977 investigation by Mother Jones magazine, Ford was aware of the problem — resulting from a flaw in the gas tank design — but instead of paying to recall and redesign the car, Ford decided it would be cheaper to pay for the lawsuits.  Ultimately, at least 27 people and as many as 180 people died as a result of Pinto fires.  But it took the government forcing Ford to recall the Pinto for the problem to actually be solved.

In 2009, millions of Americans lacked any health insurance whatsoever and millions more had private health insurance metaphorically designed to explode at the hint of any serious illness or preexisting conditions or exorbitant medical costs.  So, in 2009, 14,000 Americans were losing their health insurance every single day.  And medical bills were prompting more than 60 percent of all bankruptcies in our nation. In other words, many health insurance policies were patently dangerous and unsafe.

Now, Rep. Blackburn and her ilk might argue that people should have been free to buy the Pinto if they wanted, without government intrusion into personal choices or private business practice — just like they seem to want to argue that Americans should be free to hold onto their inadequate, costly and reckless insurance policies that throw them off at the slightest sign of illness while forcing costs up for the rest of us.  But, arguably, most Americans want to buy cars that are safe.  Auto companies didn’t want to install seat belts and airbags, just like Ford didn’t want to fix the Pinto.  That was government regulation at work, making us all more safe — even if, in some cases, it made cars more expensive.  We ultimately save, in every way imaginable, when the number of traffic deaths is dramatically cut.

This is, in effect, exactly what the Affordable Care Act does with respect to some currently existing, private insurance policies.  If those policies don’t meet a new, higher bar of quality coverage, then the government will no longer allow insurance companies to sell them.  Instead, the 5 percent of Americans who rely on the individual insurance market for their coverage will have other options, all that provide better quality coverage and many of which are far less expensive.  Plus, at least half of folks on the individual market will be eligible for subsidies that further bring costs down.

You Might Also Like

A great example comes from Deborah Cavallaro, who has been making the rounds on television complaining about her current insurance plan being canceled.  Cavallaro had not looked into her other, new options under Obamacare until a Los Angeles Times reporter called.  Together, they looked at Cavallaro’s options — and found a “silver” plan for Cavallaro that would cost slightly more in her monthly premium but save her tons in terms of her annual deductible and out-of-pocket costs as well as doctor visit expenses.  Plus, thanks to Obamacare, this plan would not be subject to the annual payment caps or preexisting condition clauses that have been exploding in the faces of consumers for decades.  After all, it’s important to remember that in 2009, most Americans were not very satisfied with their insurance plans.  People wanted better options, and now, thanks to Obamacare, they’ve got ‘em!

Congresswoman Blackburn and her cohort might fire back something about young, healthy men being required to pay for good insurance plans that cover maternity — one of 10 basic coverage requirements mandated under the Affordable Care Act, this one designed to undo the history of insurance plans discriminating against women and families.  Perhaps Republicans might also argue that Americans who live in really flat places should be able to buy cars without brakes.  But that wouldn’t be safe for drivers or the rest of us.  And in the case of healthcare reform, in particular, the point here is to bring down costs and raise the quality of care for all of us.  Those young, healthy men are going to grow up and have families one day — and then eventually become elderly — and will benefit from an insurance system that keeps costs manageable throughout and doesn’t kick off the elderly or infirm.  Just as we all benefit from seat belts and airbags, even if we never get in an accident.

Nobody is forcing anyone to buy a Ferrari plan in the individual health insurance exchange.  At least 6.4 million Americans will pay less than $100 per month for coverage in the Obamacare exchanges — which means there are plenty of Fords available.  What the Affordable Care Act simply ensures is that those policies will be safe and reliable — and not catch fire when we least expect it.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...