Shortly after Congress passed the law in March, with the polls showing deep public skepticism, David Axelrod told ABC News: “I think as the American people become familiar with what this program is and what it isn’t, they’re going to be very, very happy with it.”
Seniors with super high drug expenses were supposed to like the $250 rebate, but it is the proverbial drop in the bucket for those whose drug expenses mount in the thousands, and those who remember that the idea of allowing the government to negotiate with drug makers to bring prices down, too, was thrown under the bus. Even though young adults can now get coverage under their parents’ insurance, some are finding that’s not as easy as it sounds.
Others are learning that the law has consequences they weren’t told about. The president said many times people could keep the insurance they had if they liked it. Reform would not affect them. Lifting the lifetime cap, for example, affects only those with catastrophic expenses which most people don’t have. Instead, those whose medical expenses are low are now seeing their premiums rise to cover the additional risk the country’s for-profit insurers must now assume for lifting the cap and other new provisions the law calls for.
In late summer, at a road show cum pep rally in Philadelphia organized by Families USA, the group’s deputy director, Kathleen Stoll, told the crowd, mostly seniors, “there has been a lot of misinformation about Medicare and it’s very frustrating.” But the bait and switch continued. I don’t remember hearing the mandate mentioned, but Stoll did promise “we’ll see insurance more affordable.”
Politico’s Budoff Brown tells us that the Dems are running for cover, reporting that Senate Democrats up for reelection, like California’s Barbara Boxer and Colorado’s Michael Bennet, don’t even mention the law in the health sections of their campaign websites, and don’t take credit for its passage. Obama himself, she reported, does mention the law, “but it’s usually just a few lines wedged between the economy and the financial regulatory overhaul.” How’s that for leadership?
A few years ago, speaking at the annual meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Don Barlett, of the esteemed reporting team of Barlett and Steele, told journalists that we are lying to our readers. I don’t know that we’ve lied as much as ignored parts of the story that mattered to people. My town halls show that there are large segments of the public that still don’t know about the law, and others don’t know what or who to believe.
Campaign Desk repeatedly noted that stories about how reform would affect ordinary people were MIA. “There’s a real danger reform will pass without families knowing what’s in store for them, financially speaking,” I wrote. How can we expect the results to be any different?