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Much to Mitch McConnell’s chagrin, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, thanks in no small part to Senators Lisa Murkowski, John McCain and Susan Collins. Insurance markets are slowly stabilizing and insurer profitability is up. While the legislation is far from perfect, it has benefited tens of millions of Americans who were previously uncovered. So why were so many seemingly enraged when the bill was passed?
As Paul Krugman explains in his Friday column, there are multiple explanations: “G.O.P. apparatchiks” despised President Obama, and “wealthy people [were] furious taxes were going up to pay for lesser mortals’ care.” But even those segments can’t account for the people who “screamed at their representatives in town halls,” or the protester who insisted his son suffering from cerebral palsy faced a “death sentence” under the legislation.
None of their complaints were grounded in reality.
“The people with pre-existing medical conditions are among the A.C.A.’s biggest beneficiaries and would have had the most to lose if conservative Republicans had managed to repeal the law,” Krugman writes. “Predictions of mass harm were completely wrong.”
Seven years later, the narrative has shifted. When Republicans open call lines and town halls for constituents furious with the state of American health insurance, they are instead met with “an outpouring of support for the law, bolstered by tales of lives and finances saved by the A.C.A.”
Krugman attributes the initial resistance to Obamacare to a flood of misinformation from Fox News and talk radio, which convinced a sizable percentage of the country that “death panels” would decide the fate of senior citizens. How did so many fall for these obvious falsehoods? Krugman continues:
The answer, I believe, comes down to a combination of identity politics and affinity fraud. For generations, conservatives have conditioned many Americans to believe that safety-net programs are all about taking things away from white people and giving stuff to minorities. And those who stoked Obamacare rage were believed because they seemed to some Americans like their kind of people — that is, white people defending them against you-know-who.
While many have been duped—perhaps too easily in this instance—truth and justice have slowly prevailed. Obamacare is here to stay, at least for now.
Read the entire column at the New York Times.