Dear Ms. Watson: I'm trying REALLY hard to sympathize with your plight, but...
A couple of years ago, an ACA-related "case study" story went viral for a week or so about a man from Fort Mill, South Carolina by the name of Luis Lang.
Initially, the story seemed to be about a man who railed against Obamacare while both taking absolutely no responsibility for failing to take advantage of the benefits of the law which he was entitled to and simultaneously blaming President Obama for the failure of his own GOP-controlled state to expand Medicaid under the law. Several people wrote up articles ripping Mr. Lang to shreds over his seeming hypocrisy, myself included.
In subsequent weeks and months, however, it turned out that his story wasn't quite that cut and dry. I actually had a lengthy interview with him, and it turns out that while much of the story was accurate, many elements of it weren't...or, at the very least, he disputed some of them. Eventually, Mr. Lang even left the Republican Party and became a Single Payer advocate, which is pretty awesome.
With that in mind, I read today's story by Noam Levey in the L.A. Times with more of a cautious eye. It centers around a Lake City, Florida woman named Kathy Watson:
After struggling for years without insurance, the 55-year-old former small-business owner — who has battled diabetes, high blood pressure and two cancers — credits Obamacare with saving her life.
So far, so good: She fully recognizes that it's the Affordable Care Act which is responsible for her being alive today, and apparently even recognizes that "Obamacare" is in fact the healthcare law currently on the chopping block (that is, presumably she's aware that they're the same thing). And then...
Watson also voted for Donald Trump, believing the businessman would bring change. She dismissed his campaign pledges to scrap the Affordable Care Act as bluster.
Now...Watson finds herself among many Trump supporters who must reconcile their votes with worries about the future of their healthcare.
Here, of course, is the point at which my own blood pressure starts to rise and my eye starts to twitch.
However, I'm trying to remain calm. Perhaps she's realized that she made a massive mistake last November and now recognizes that she needs to do everything in her power to help correct it?
Watson, a proud, salty woman who was uninsurable a few years ago, isn’t ready to renounce Trump.
...Watson embodies the political challenge Republicans face as they scramble to fulfill their pledge to repeal Obamacare without harming people like Watson, who helped fuel Trump’s unexpected victory.
Seven years, folks. They've been vowing to repeal the ACA "root and branch" for seven years. They've actually voted to do exactly that as many as sixty times (depending on what you define as "repeal"). Donald Trump campaigned heavily on repealing the ACA for a solid year and a half.
...Watson tried to buy a health plan on her own. But before Obamacare, insurers routinely screened out sick and potentially costly customers. Trump has voiced support for keeping that protection, but other Republican plans would allow insurers in some cases to charge sick patients more.
In Mr. Lang's case, he could, at the very least, use ignorance of how the law actually worked as his defense. In Ms. Watson's case, however, from everything I read in Levey's article, she seems to have fully understood just how ugly things were prior to the ACA, as well as exactly what protections and coverage requirements the law now provides for her specifically.
But Watson couldn't’t afford more extensive medical tests to find out what was making her sick until 2009, when she was diagnosed with a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.
“We went through everything we had,” Watson said...friends helped her navigate hospitals where one noted that Watson often was treated like a “second-class citizen” because she lacked insurance.
...But when she tried to use the plan, she discovered it didn't’t cover major medical costs, a trap many consumers fell into when insurers were subject to less oversight. Insurers now must cover a basic set of benefits.
...Passage of the Affordable Care Act finally offered some relief, thanks to a small temporary program created in 2011 for people like Watson who had been denied coverage.
She was able to get on a plan that ultimately cost $363 a month and is now cancer free.
“I would have lost everything without that,” Watson said.
...This time, thanks to Obamacare, there was no gap for her to fall into.
...in less than half an hour, she enrolled in an HMO plan, despite her long medical history.
The plan normally cost $664 a month. But because Obamacare offers subsidies to help low- and moderate-income Americans afford premiums and deductibles, Watson pays nothing.
“I still can’t believe I can get this coverage,” she said.
And just when I was ready to put a bullet in my brain...
...“I’ll give it a little more time,” she said. “But I’m not really sure about Trump anymore.”
She said she’s ready to go to Washington to tell lawmakers not to roll back Obamacare.
Well, I guess there's still some hope.
But seriously...if you read the entire article, nowhere does Ms. Watson give any reason for why she voted for Trump beyond she "believed he would bring change". What type of change? She doesn't say. But apparently "kicking me off my healthcare policy which I don't have to pay anything for" wasn't the type of "change" she had in mind.
I guess she should've been a little more specific.
This entry doesn't really do Levey's article justice. Please read the whole thing.