When he looked for a solution to run-away health care costs in America, Obama went with the “individual mandate,” an idea once championed by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation.
The president agreed with its central premise: Why should those of us who buy health insurance also pay for those who don’t have it? By way of example, he pointed at the mandate successfully passed in Massachusetts by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.
Public relations can inform or misinform. With its status quo threatened, the health insurance industry and its allies went negative, spending more than $200 million on a relentless anti-ACA propaganda campaign designed to deceive average Americans.
PR operatives create messages they want repeated through media outlets, which serve to amplify their veracity even when the message is false. Thus, we soon heard about “death panels,” “health care rationing” and “16,000 new IRS agents,” all Big Lies that become “true” if repeated loudly and often enough.
After the SCOTUS decision came down, a new message was pushed: “The largest tax increase on the middle class in history,” a falsehood incessantly repeated on Fox News and by the far right talkers.
In fact, the tax (or penalty) will be imposed on a small number of Americans who remain uninsured. But they’ll have no reason to go uninsured because they can buy subsidized insurance through exchanges as they do in Massachusetts, where 98 percent of all residents now have health insurance.
None of this matters to conservatives bent on protecting the health insurers. One, Rep. Tom Price, did some spin doctoring in the MDJ recently:
“The Court’s decision leaves in place dangerous policies that will force American citizens to endure diminished quality of care, increased insurance costs, fewer health care choices, and excessive taxation brought on by an overzealous Washington.”
More nonsense concocted by the health insurance industry and dutifully delivered by a reliable mouthpiece.
You know what “dangerous polices” are, Rep. Price? Being told by your health insurer you’re no longer covered when you get a cancer diagnosis; or being told your child with a pre-existing asthma condition can’t be insured; or receiving a form letter saying you’ve exhausted your lifetime benefits.
Diminished quality of care? How about no health care for 32 million Americans, eight million of them children? What about the free riders who expect the rest of us to pay for their health care?
Price goes on to promise, “the House of Representatives will take action in the days ahead to once again send a full repeal of the president’s health care law.”
He and the House GOP leadership must have missed the Reuters/Ipsos poll of Republican voters that shows 80 percent of them favor “creating an insurance pool where small businesses and uninsured have access to insurance exchanges to take advantage of large group pricing benefits”; 78 percent support “banning insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions”; and 86 percent are for “banning insurance companies from cancelling policies because a person becomes ill.”
What’s the contrasting big idea Rep. Price is flogging? Medical malpractice reform. Price, a doctor, insists awards to patients injured by his peers is what’s really driving up the cost of health care.
Except that’s not true either.
“(We’re) talking about 1.5 percent of health care costs,” notes Tom Baker, author of ‘The Medical Malpractice Myth.’ “It’s small relative to the out-of-control cost of health care.”
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.