The Health Care Spectator

Obamacare’s Culture of Coverup

Investigating deaths by GM but not ACA.

By 4.3.14

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The headlines are everywhere. General Motors is responsible for thirteen deaths. Harry Reid’s Senate and John Boehner’s House have each held a hearing. Some 230,000 pages of documents have been turned over by the company, Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat, is railing about a GM “culture of cover-up.” The job of the GM CEO, Mary Barra, is on the line, and she is summoned to those televised hearings to explain and apologize. The families of the victims are giving well-attended press conferences.

But when Ann Coulter was on Fox and Friends with Tucker Carlson and mentioned that she had just learned of the case of Julie Stovall — a friend’s sister who lost her life thanks to Obamacare? The Obamacare culture of cover-up quickly kicked in. Ms. Coulter was assailed by liberals as a liar. (Here and here among other places.)

When the death of Frank Alfisi comes to light? Brought to our attention (here) by his daughter, Amy DiFrancesca? Who was told by her father’s doctor that “You have Mr. Obama to thank for this” — “this” being her father’s rapidly declining health caused by Medicare’s “two midnight rule”? An Obamacare-induced rule that led directly to Mr. Alfisi’s death? Silence. Or — attack the victim.

Yes, that’s right, the attacks on Frank Alfisi have already begun. David Madeira is both a doctor and radio host who is appalled by the Alfisi story. Posting my column on his Facebook he received an angry post from an Obamacare supporter that attacked, yes, the late Frank Alfisi. Dismissing the story of Amy DiFrancesca as “garbage” the writer went on to attack her late father, second-guessing a 73-year old man stricken by a stomach virus that made him so ill he chose the hospital over his dialysis. “It was this patient's responsibility to attend dialysis, even if he didn't feel well…” etc. etc. etc.

When not attacking Ann Coulter as a liar, then what’s left for Obamacare’s commissars to do but blame the victim?

Suffice to say, the Senate has not called for hearings into the death of Julie Stovall and Frank Alfisi. (Where is the GOP-controlled House?) And as mentioned the response from the liberal media is to brazenly dismiss Coulter as a liar — a bold lie itself and simply ignore Frank Alfisi’s daughter, Ms. DiFrancesca, altogether. Or blame the victim.

This, mind you, well aside from all the cover-up surrounding Obamacare’s false promises and artful statistics.

Let’s start with the reaction to Ann Coulter bringing the story of Julie Stovall to light. Here is the story of Ms. Stovall as described not by Coulter but by Stovall’s brother, Doug Graham. Hat tip here to both Coulter and Peter Andrew, the latter whose website Conservative American.org has published the facts.

Writing a guest column on Coulter’s website, brother Doug Graham said of sister Julie Graham Stovall, as quoted in part here:

This Wednesday, my little sister, Julie, will be buried. She died because she delayed seeking health care for what turned out to be a catastrophic condition after her private health insurance policy was cancelled because of Obamacare. As she waited for a new Obamacare-approved policy to kick in, her condition deteriorated to the point that it was too late.

Julie, her husband, and four children were covered by a medical plan they liked, and had been promised they could keep by President Obama. But like so many others in this country, her family’s private health care policy was cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act. So my sister and her family struggled through the expensive and incompetently designed Obamacare website to find a new policy. Unfortunately, while they waited for their new Obama-approved healthcare plan to finally kick in, my little sister fell ill. She couldn’t keep down solid food. She should have gone to a doctor. But she toughed it out, as many people do, until her new coverage would kick in on February 2. She and her husband didn’t have a lot of money, so she didn’t want to incur what she thought were avoidable medical expenses.

But she didn’t make it.

… So, while the White House sends out talking points to the talking heads who proclaim Americans will be better off because Obamacare forced them off of inadequate health care plans, my family knows better.

… Obamacare has also inflicted job losses, higher cost plans, and a shift from full-time to part time employment. Even when factoring in all this the economic damage and the harm it has done to working Americans, the most disturbing aspect of Obamacare is that this real world hardship is inflicted because it treats living breathing people as actuarial statistics in the service of giant insurance pools, rather than as the individuals they are. It is highly ironic that this Administration that talks so much about protecting “choice” in so many areas of American life, yet is harshly shutting down individual choice and initiative in such a personal matter of personal healthcare.

The public debate about Obamacare will continue for a long time. But for my family, the debate ended with the death of my sister. For us, it’s not about “policy,” anymore. It’s about the tragic consequences that can happen when the government decides to cancel the private economic decisions of individuals in favor of a huge policy experiment created in the back rooms of Washington by out-of-touch bureaucrats, statisticians and lobbyists. As far as we are concerned, Obamacare killed my little sister and left a good man a widower, and four children without their mother.

Got that? Doug Graham could not be more specific or more pointed: “Obamacare killed my little sister.”

Julie Stovall’s “private health insurance policy was cancelled because of Obamacare.” This a direct result of the president’s false promise that “if you like your insurance, you can keep it.” Reduced to applying for Obamacare, she ran into the problems millions of others have had getting through on the infamously unfunctional web site. By the time her insurance came through it was too late — and Julie Stovall died.

Yet there was no correction from PolitiFact down there in Tampa Bay, much less an apology to Coulter. Although after an indignant friend of Julie’s wrote a stiff rebuke at another liberal site that said “….the story is bunk. You're welcome. Don’t come around here guilt tripping people with crap stories Anne Coulter and her cronies dreamed up” — there was finally a retraction.

And reaction to the death of Frank Alfisi? As mentioned — silence other than in this space.

So what do we have here? What we have are two different families — one in Virginia and one in New York — that have quite separately stepped forward and said that Obamacare was directly responsible for taking the life of a family member. First it was Amy DiFrancesca’s father Frank Alfisi in January of 2014, second was Doug Graham’s sister Julie Stovall some two weeks later.

Yet all the media attention goes to — the deaths caused by a General Motors ignition switch.

And what are the families of the GM case saying? Reports NBC: “'It is clear that GM is only concerned with their bottom line and not the safety of our loved ones,' Terry DiBattista, adoptive mother of Amber Rose, who died in a crash involving a recalled car, said on Tuesday.” Also: “GM chief executive Mary Barra met with the families of crash victims for two hours on Monday, an attorney for the families told NBC News.… Family members of crash victims told NBC News that Barra became emotional during her meeting with them on Monday, at one breaking into tears. The family member of one man who died in a GM car said Barra apologized to the families.”

Let’s be clear. No one is suggesting there isn’t reason to investigate GM and the 13 deaths caused by its cars. The question is: where is the investigation into the deaths of Julie Stovall and Frank Alfisi? Where are the private meetings with President Obama, the CEO of Obamacare, and the families of Julie Stovall and Frank Alfisi? Where are the apologies?

Not to put too fine a point on it all, but the Obama White House and their media allies will hope for hell to freeze over before this happens. If GM’s behavior, as its critics charge, is dictated by a financial bottom line, it is clear the Obama White House is driven by a political bottom line. So concerned they or their supporters will cover-up the stories of deaths, accuse the truth tellers of lying, or, when all else fails, just attack the victim. Who, not coincidentally, is conveniently deceased. Or? Or just ignore the whole thing and hope the story goes away.

Why? First and foremost, it would embarrass the president. Because in fact to investigate the deaths of Julie Stovall and Frank Alfisi — to open the door to public testimony, family press conferences, demands for apologies and all the rest — would be another blow not just to Obamacare but Obama himself. An embarrassment to a president (who is already seen as being regularly embarrassed by Vladimir Putin) who is way out there on the limb, just this week at a Rose Garden pep rally, touting its success. Nothing like a couple of inconvenient deaths to spoil the garden party.

Then there are those Obamacare Senate boosters up for re-election who are now racing as far away in the opposite direction from it as possible. Running as fast as they can go. Yesterday the Supreme Court lifted the lid on campaign contributions. The thought of an opponent’s campaign commercial funded by wealthy anti-Obama contributors flooding the October airwaves and endlessly looping Doug Graham sitting under the klieg lights on national television repeating the charge that, in Graham’s words “Obamacare killed my little sister” sends shudders through the liberal ranks.

Not to mention the idea of watching Amy DiFrancesca sit next to Doug Graham and say, as she has said on the record to me, that she is coming forward to tell her father’s story because the “thought regularly crosses my mind that the majority of people are eventually going to be on Medicare or Medicaid so they might want to be less apathetic and a little more attentive to what's happening. We have, for the first time in the history of our country, taken several steps backwards in healthcare.” Amy is determined to “get the word out there” by “trying to make this country what it used to be for my son and future grandchildren….” Combined with her statement that she was told bluntly by one of her father’s “certainly very angry” doctors that “you can thank Mr. Obama for this”? This is campaign commercial dynamite.

Deaths from Obamacare? What deaths? Move along people. There’s nothing to see here.

Unless you were driving a GM car.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.