Millions and millions of Americans have gained health insurance in the last five months, if you’re wondering why Republicans are so pissed
According to political lore, Lyndon Johnson spread a rumor during a congressional campaign that his opponent was pig-f*cker.
When his campaign manager asked him why he was spreading such a vile falsehood, Johnson allegedly said, “I just want to make him deny it.”
This is the strategy behind Republicans’ torrent of often fake Obamacare “horror” stories — one of which is still on the air here in Michigan even though the claims in the ad have been debunked. By forcing Democrats to deny them, they’re helping to spread the stories.
Now, there is some virtue in this for Democrats. The fact that Julie Boonstra — the cancer patient in the ad — had her premiums cut in half is a reminder of one of the key virtues of a law that ends discrimination against the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. Most of these “horror” stories get debunked because nearly all the people who are being inconvenienced by this law are healthy, relatively affluent people being asked to pay a bit more with the guarantee that if they get sick or destitute, they will become one Obamacare’s winners.
But studies show that debunking lies has no practical benefit in politics.
Political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler have found that “corrections frequently fail to reduce misperceptions among the most vulnerable ideological group and can even make them worse.” Likewise, studies have shown that arguing with conservatives only serves to make them more certain about their beliefs.
There’s no winning this argument. The only way people are going to understand that Obamacare is working is through success stories. We need big, glossy stories like “Man with a new, healthy heart says Obamacare saved his life” and sweet, little stories like “Unemployed Cancer Patient Gets Obamacare Coverage for $3 a Month.”
Indeed, Democrats also need to start figuring out exactly how many millions of Obamacare success stories there are through Medicaid expansion.
Our Charles Gaba has been leading the way in this discussion. He’s figured out that between 3,650,000 and 4,910,000 Americans have already gained coverage because of the law’s Medicaid boost.
This is in addition to the 4 million who have signed up for a private plan and it’s hugely important because we know that gaining Medicaid coverage has immediate benefits to your mental health and your financial well-being. It essentially soothes some of pain that comes with toiling away at just above the poverty level, in addition to potentially saving your life.
This number matters, even if the media and Republicans insist that poor people don’t count. These are people who currently earn too much to get Medicaid — they represent many of the Americans who’ve been brutalized by the Great Recession. And by covering them, we’re driving down the rates of everyone in their state.
And the number is going to get bigger and bigger even after March 31. Michigan hasn’t even opened our Medicaid expansion yet.
You can only win in politics with a story people want to hear. And millions of Americans are benefiting from a law that says all Americans deserve the right to be healthy and prosperous. So try pointing that out to someone.
[Image via LaDawna Howard | Flickr]