Let’s all share our own pre-Obamacare horror stories

I feel left out. Conservatives can make up fake Obamacare horror stories all day long, and all us progressives are left with are real pre-Obamacare horror stories. It’s not fair.

The latest entrant in the fake Obamacare horror story sweepstakes is none other than Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson.

Johnson’s fakery was exposed courtesy of Jud Lounsbury at the progressive blog Uppity Wisconsin. Seems Johnson is fond of telling a story about how his newborn daughter was saved 30 years ago thanks to an innovative heart procedure done by a surgeon named John Foker (not to be confused with “Faker,” which is an apt appellation for Sen. Johnson).

It’s a heartwarming story, but Johnson couldn’t just let it be. He needed to parlay it into political points, so he added his own (buffoonishly flawed) interpretation: Had Obamacare been around at the time, Foker would have surely wilted under the klieg lights of government meddling and scrutiny. In fact, he probably wouldn’t have become a doctor at all! Ouch. Take that, Obamacare!

Well, maybe Johnson should have gotten in touch with Foker before making so many brash assumptions — and bellowing them hither and yon — because Lounsbury did contact Foker, and the reality couldn’t be much different from Johnson’s interpretation.

Gird your gallbladders, people. This is pretty rich.

From Lounsbury’s blog post:

So, I decided to get in touch with Doctor Foker. Via email, Foker said he is not only “generally supportive” of Obamacare, but thinks it didn’t go far enough, saying, “Unfortunately, it was written by the insurance and drug companies so not great. Most of the many flaws of American medical care are still present.” Foker also suggested that Republicans should be happy with what is a Republican-developed, “private-solution,” but they are more interested in obstructionism, saying, “they’re never happy.”

In addition, it turns out that that Foker was (and still is) a professor at a public university, the University of Minnesota’s medical school, got most of his training at the U of M, and performed the surgery on Johnson’s daughter at the U of M’s Medical Center.  

And the procedure Foker developed that, in Johnson’s words, “makes the heart operate backwards”? While Foker perfected and developed the procedure to new heights, Think Progress’ Igor Volsky found that the very such first operations were not even performed in the United States, but in the socialized medicine countries of Brazil and France.  

So, Jud, you’re saying that a conservative concocted an Obamacare horror story that wasn’t entirely accurate? Nooooooo!

Actually, coming up with fake Obamacare horror stories has become something of a GOP obsession, overtaking golf, pretending JFK and Martin Luther King Jr. were conservatives, and coming up with fake Benghazi stories on the list of favorite conservative past times.

For instance, shortly after Obamacare launched, Sean Hannity — who is right about as often as a stopped clock with no hands — trotted out three couples who claimed they were getting screwed sideways by the new health care reform law.

Eric Stern, who served as a health care advisor to former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer, followed up with Hannity’s guests for a piece on Salon.com, and his findings were eye-opening.



Turns out one of the guests, who owned a construction business, wasn’t subject to Obamacare’s employer mandate and couldn’t explain to Stern how the law affected him. Stern also checked out the health care exchanges for the other two couples and found they could potentially save big as a result of Obamacare — 60% and 63% per year, respectively.

And I’m sure as soon as Hannity was made aware of his goofy errors, he went straight to Roger Ailes and demanded the Fox News chief vigorously spank him. (That’s already my computer wallpaper, so I’d like to think it’s actually happened once or twice.)

But no, mea culpas are not the order of the day when it comes to fake conservative Obamacare stories — repetition and further embellishment are.

So how do we progressives compete when all we have are infuriatingly real and boring pre-Obamacare horror stories? I suppose we just have to append our own B.S. to those.

For example, here’s a true pre-Obamacare horror story:

A very kind, hardworking, self-employed man I knew contracted cancer in the late ’80s, and his insurance company later dropped him. Eventually, he died from the disease.

That story doesn’t appear to need embellishment, because it’s horrible enough on its own. But since people are often more afraid of major change than they are of the status quo — no matter how beneficial the change or how pernicious the status quo — it may need a dose of added fright.

From now on when I tell the story, I’ll say that after this intelligent, thoughtful, kind man died, the CEO of the insurance company that dropped him showed up to the funeral and stole money out of the church collection plate. Now it’s an exciting man-bites-dog story instead of just another deadly dull account of a person getting screwed by the insurance companies.

Of course, post-Obamacare, insurance companies are restricted from dropping people’s coverage when they get sick, so such a story would be unlikely to happen today.

Or how about the guy I knew who was denied coverage because he was once treated for depression? Pretty boring, right? Particularly since that kind of thing happened so often before Obamacare prevented insurance companies from denying people coverage because of pre-existing conditions. So from now on, to give this story some legs, I’ll say that he eventually recovered and was living happily with a Hawaiian Tropic model in a $2.5 million high-rise condo until Ron Johnson ran him over with his Hummer on the way to an anti-Obamacare rally to tell his made-up story about his daughter’s heart surgery.

So there you have it. The best way for progressives to counter outrageously fake Obamacare horror stories is to come up with our own outrageously fake pre-Obamacare stories.

Or, come to think of it, maybe the outrageous — and true — pre-Obamacare horror stories we already have would work just as well.

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