Late last week, while perusing the press releases that flooded my inbox announcing a nationwide public relations effort called “Get Covered America,” I was reminded of a Woody Allen gag: “There are worse things than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?” With gleeful subject lines like, “New Video Introduces ‘Get Covered America’ Campaign,” the emails suggest that many Americans are about to experience the grim fate that Allen described. They will be relentlessly hectored until they contact an Obamacare exchange to learn about insurance -- and other opportunities.
Get Covered America is the long-anticipated propaganda campaign launched by Enroll America, a “nonpartisan” organization whose ostensible mission is to help the uninsured navigate the exchanges. In reality, Enroll America is an Obama administration front group funded with money extorted from the insurance industry. The story is by now familiar. Congress declined to fund an advertising campaign for Obamacare, so HHS Commissar Sebelius initiated “stakeholder conversations about the… health care law.” In other words, she contacted the insurers she regulates and suggested that the exchanges would be pay-to-play operations.
Thus, Enroll America is typical of the day-to-day skullduggery that defines the Obama regime. It’s not exactly shocking to find that Sebelius or any of her accomplices in this most corrupt of presidential administrations has behaved unethically. A more interesting question involves the very need for a campaign like Get Covered America. During the health reform debate, we were repeatedly told by the White House, congressional Democrats, and their media allies that there were teeming millions of uninsured Americans crying out for coverage. Why, then, are these hapless wretches not already lining up to sign up?
If our uninsured problem were so desperate, why do we need Enroll America to round up and herd people through the exchanges? The answer to that question has long been obvious to those of us who bothered to do our homework -- America’s uninsured problem was largely a work of fiction. The fabled uninsured entered the public consciousness when the advocates of socialized medicine realized their claim that government could provide health care more efficiently than could the private sector was not getting much traction with the general public. Only soi dissant progressives were naïve enough to believe that fantasy.
Thus, we began to see stories in the media about huge numbers of people going bankrupt and even dying for lack of health insurance. A major source of this nonsense was Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), whose tiny membership has always been even less representative of the health care community than the virtually irrelevant American Medical Association. PNHP is, however, representative of the ivy-league community. Many of its members teach at prestigious institutions and are thus able to get allegedly scientific “studies” published in the major media with relative ease.
Among the most notorious of these studies claimed that no fewer than 45,000 Americans were dying every year for lack of health coverage. This claim was outrageous even by PNHP’s standards, and a number of health policy experts immediately exposed the shoddy methodology used to produce that absurdly high figure. John Goodman, for example, shot their findings to pieces in Health Affairs. That did not, however, stop the purveyors of government-run health care from parroting the PNHP study. It was, as it happens, the source of Rep. Alan Grayson’s notorious claim that Republicans want people to “die quickly.”
Another preposterous piece of fiction associated with the uninsured involved bankruptcy. In an earlier study concocted by members of PNHP, it was claimed that 54 percent of all bankruptcies were caused by medical bills. However, when honest researchers began looking at the question, they found that medical bills were the primary driver of a far smaller percentage. A group of experts at U.C. Davis, not precisely a hive of right-wingers, demonstrated that the correct figure was about 5 percent of all bankruptcies. This did not, of course, stop Obamacare advocates and the “news” media from using the 54 percent figure.
Nor did it stop them from exaggerating the overall number of uninsured. The figure most often used in the media prior to the passage of Obamacare was 47 million, all of whom were represented as unable to afford coverage. But this figure was never supported by census data. After subtracting illegal aliens, people already eligible for government programs, and those who could obviously afford coverage, the actual number of involuntarily uninsured Americans was about 14 million. Not coincidentally, this is about the number of people who will be newly eligible for Medicaid under ACA’s expansion of that program.
If the actual number of uninsured even approached 47 million and truly constituted the human tragedy we kept hearing about before Obamacare passed, there would be no need for Get Covered America. The uninsured would line up for coverage just like job applicants line up at a soon-to-open Walmart. For what, then, do we need Enroll America? The answer is that WE don’t need them for anything. The Democrats need them. Most of the people they “guide” through the exchanges will not end up buying private coverage. It will be too expensive. They will, however, be offered one thing that they can afford -- voter registration.
And you may rest well-assured that the folks at Enroll America will point out this opportunity and be ready to answer any question the applicant may have about that part of the paperwork. In other words, Get Covered America is essentially a voter registration drive masquerading as a project to resolve a horrendous national problem that never existed.
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