New Mexico’s Abortion Wars, and Anti-Obamacare Sentiment Gets Ugly


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Transcript

This is the 300th episode of Reality Cast! Thanks for hanging in and helping grow this audience and all these awesome years of bringing you news and interviews on reproductive health care. I look forward to many more!

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I’ll be interviewing Jill Filipovic about the increasing hostilities over abortion in New Mexico. Plus two segments, both on conservative efforts to keep people from getting health care as the dawn of the Affordable Care Act fast approaches.

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October 1 is coming quickly for us, and that means the health-care exchanges are starting and this somehow, in a lot of minds, but especially conservative minds, means Obamacare is really for real. The exchanges themselves are really just marketplaces where people can buy insurance plans that fit the minimum levels to achieve the insurance mandate that goes into effect next year. They’re basically the living embodiment of the “free market” that conservatives are always yammering on about, displayed in a handy Internet form. So why is it being treated like the beginning of the apocalypse on right wing media? I’m serious. Just listen to the music Fox News has chosen as its Obamacare theme music.

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Do they still bother to pretend they’re “fair and balanced”? Or has that ship sailed? I guess I could look it up. Let’s see … Apparently it’s still their slogan but they don’t use it very much. Makes sense, under the circumstances. Even they have a limit where it gets embarrassing. Anyway, they have Elisabeth Hasselbeck on now, and she was extremely eager to make it seem like the nation is in a full blown panic over the impending existence of a website that allows you to buy insurance without much hassle.

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Yeah, I bet they’re scared. It can’t possibly be because the Fox News network has spent months and years airing alarmist reports that suggest that the second our country has universal health care, it will have no health care at all. Indeed, this segment was an incomprehensible one where Hasselbeck and her guest endeavored to scare the audience into believing that your doctor will be so angry that all of his patients have health insurance that he will rage quit. The claim is that somehow this will mean “more” paperwork and that alone will do it. However, this claim only makes sense if you believe health insurance is a new thing that was just invented. On the contrary, all Obamacare does is take pre-existing systems and put more people into them. That’s why, contrary to the claims of Fox News that doctors oppose it, the most important doctors association in the country is actually helping educate doctors about it so that the transition can go smoothly. The American Medical Association has a new website for doctors that explains not just that Obamacare is a good thing, but give doctors advice on how to get their patients signed up. So, basically, the opposite of what Hasselbeck is claiming.

Of course, the right-wing anger that more Americans will get health insurance is so out of control that the pressure on Republicans to shut down the government rather than let people get health insurance is reaching a fever pitch. Erick Erickson, always a reliable source of profoundly stupid reactionary freaking out on air, was a particularly gruesome example.

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The claim that businesses are shutting down rather than offer health insurance to full time employees is largely a lie, as most businesses already do offer that benefit. But this is where we’re at, with pundits demanding a massive government shutdown and even serious damage to their own party, to keep currently uninsured people from getting health insurance. Which is to say that Erickson wants to shut down the entire federal government to make a point about how much he hates anything that Barack Obama can take credit for. It’s not even particularly about some increased spending regarding the subsidies and Medicaid expansion, even, because most of this segment was about pointless bickering over some bureaucratic changes in implementation.

This level of right-wing nihilism was off-putting not just to those of us who don’t have a burning and irrational hatred for the President, but also by people who think perhaps the Republican Party should not set fire to itself in hopes that the President gets burned. People like the otherwise stalwart hater of the poor Charles Krauthammer.

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That last part at the end, of course, is pure fantasy. The claim that this kind of legislation is impossible to implement and will fall apart only works if you have an ignorant audience that doesn’t realize universal health care has worked everywhere it’s been tried, including in nations that have laws similar to the Affordable Care Act. And including in Massachusetts, where a program nearly identical to Obamacare has been in effect for years. He’s just trying to turn all the people Fox has whipped into a panic towards the goal of voting Republican instead of supporting action that will hurt the Republicans in the next election. But whatever his reason, he’s 100% right that a government shutdown is not the proper response to this.

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insert interview

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While the moaning and groaning about Obamacare in conservative media is mostly focused on the political side of the equation, the widespread anger on the right at the possibility that uninsured people might now get insurance is creating some seriously ugly problems. A small provision in the Affordable Care Act sets aside some grants and programs to help uninsured people navigate the insurance system. This provision should be non-controversial, even if you oppose Obamacare for supposedly small government reasons, because the provision says nothing about whether or not the health-care exchanges, Medicaid expansion or federal subsidies exist. All these programs do is help people who are interested sign up. Attacking these programs is about nothing more than attacking people who want health care because you believe that they, for whatever reason, do not deserve health care. It’s just pure sadistic abuse of the uninsured for no other reason than they are uninsured and you want to keep them that way.

Alas, this sadism is becoming public policy in Florida.

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They’re trying to use a small incident where the wrong documents were sent to the wrong person to claim that people simply can’t be allowed to get help signing up for health insurance. No one buys the claim that the 3 million uninsured people in Florida are is some kind of special danger if they get to join people like this Pam Bondi in actually being able to have health insurance. At a certain point, it’s unavoidable concluding that many conservatives are just straight up afraid of having to share waiting rooms at doctors’ offices with poor people. There’s no other reason to freak out about this, because getting the uninsured onto insurance will have no real impact on people like Bondi. It’s just the same griping about having to stand in line with poor people at the grocery store, but this time used to complain about people conservatives don’t want to see at the doctor’s office.

Unfortunately, this irrational panic about poor people being able to actually go to the doctor has led Gov. Rick Scott of Florida to actually try to stop navigators from showing people how to sign up for health care.

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In other words, on a thin pretext they’ve basically disallowed state health offices from working to help get people signed up for health care. That’s the equivalent of banning organizations from, say, not allowing the post office to advertise that you can buy stamps there or not allowing the department of motor vehicles from putting out pamphlets on how to learn to drive so you can get a license. Considering that people have to get health insurance or face fines from the government, this is particularly sleazy. But of greater immediate concern is that people really don’t know that they can get health insurance through Obamacare, and the outreach efforts need to be maximized right now.

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What also makes this kind of amazing in a truly awful way is that it’s really just fundamentally a short term stalling tactic. Sure, they’ll be able to keep some people ignorant of the law for a year or so and force those people to pay fines and not have health insurance, but eventually people are going to figure this one out. I mean, you can go right onto the Internet and find the exchanges. Word of mouth will help spread this one. Taking this stand does nothing, absolutely nothing, but maximize the number of people who are uninsured for as long as conservatives can get away with it. It doesn’t serve any other purpose but to make sure that some people who can get health insurance don’t get it, and even then, only for about a year or two. It’s sadism for the sake of sadism.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Rush Limbaugh honors all the hard work that feminists have done edition. Though, naturally, he has no idea that he’s delivering a major compliment.

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Well, Limbaugh might believe that it’s perversion to believe that women should enjoy sex, too, and that sexual assault is bad and birth control is good. But he’s completely wrong that most people think of that as sexual perversion.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte