Can You Hate Obamacare But Love ACA? Maybe!

| Fri Aug. 16, 2013 11:11 AM EDT

Americans for Prosperity recently launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to trash Obamacare, and its first radio spot has drawn more than the usual derision from the left. Steve Benen summarizes:

The spot features a woman voice that tells listeners, "Two years ago, my son Caleb began having seizures ... if we can't pick our own doctor, how do I know my family is going to get the care they need?"

In reality, there's simply nothing in the Affordable Care Act that stops consumers from choosing their own doctor. Literally, not one provision. Under a variety of HMOs, there are limits on out-of-network physicians,but that was an American norm long before "Obamacare" came around.

You know, I get that the administration hasn't yet rolled out its big educational push for Obamacare. And I get that most people just don't pay a lot of attention to stuff like this and are easily confused. And yet....I've nonetheless been a little stonkered for a long time about why supporters haven't spent more time hammering away on just a few basic things. The sad fact is that most middle-class voters don't really care about expanded Medicaid or subsidies for the poor. But they do care about this:

  • If you lose your job, you can still get health coverage for your family at an affordable price.
  • And you can't be turned down because you have a preexisting condition.
  • And you'll have your choice of policies and access to any doctor you want.

Sure, not everyone is afraid of losing their job. But lots of people are, and Obamacare provides a level of security they currently don't have. That's a very appealing pitch for workers who are non-poor but know that their jobs are shaky. So why hasn't this gotten more attention?

Beats me. On the bright side, here's a novel idea: when the big educational push does come along, it will be all about the "Affordable Care Act," not Obamacare. But the right has spent so much time demonizing "Obamacare" that the public might not even realize that ACA is the same thing. Seriously. I could easily imagine everyone going out and signing up for ACA at the same time that they're listening to Fox and frothing at the mouth about how "Obamacare" is socialist fascism. Weirder things have happened. The tea party's insistence on mocking ACA as Obamacare might come back to bite them this fall.

UPDATE: It turns out that Jonathan Bernstein made this same "keep your Obamacare away from my Affordable Care Act!" observation at greater length a couple of months ago. You can read it here.

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