One of the biggest factors undermining the popularity of the Affordable Care Act ever since its passage in 2010 was the broad prevalence of misinformation about the law’s provisions and effects. This misinformation ranged from the wildly inaccurate–“death panels” and similar baseless nonsense–to much more subtle inaccuracies like bogus 2014 story in the Denver Post about “$10,000 individual deductibles” and Sen. Cory Gardner’s wantonly deceptive claims of “hundreds of thousands of policy cancellations.” For every news story that accurately explains the law’s benefits and problems, there have been a dozen just plain wrong stories that served to needlessly mislead and scare the public.
Health care is one of those issues where it’s very easy for anyone lacking the specialized knowledge of both the existing system and proposals to reform it to get the story wrong. Because Democrats have been on the defensive over health care for nearly eight years in defense of the Affordable Care Act, such misinformation–intentional and unintended–has generally resulted in political liability for Democrats. As a result, Republicans have been very…tolerant of health care misinformation, to put it mildly.
Case in point: a new extremely uninformed attack on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis from the Phil-Anschutz-owned Walker Stapleton-loving Colorado Springs Gazette:
Jared Polis has a new ad touting his strong support for universal health care. The 2016 election might suggest it’s a lost cause as far as the Colorado electorate goes.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidate and sitting congressman touts Medicare-for-All, a load-bearing pillar of universal health care. A similarly purposed Amendment 69, the so-called ColoradoCare single-payer plan, took a 4-to-1 thumping, just two years ago.
Full stop. Amendment 69, the state-level universal health care proposal that was shellacked at the polls in 2016, is a totally different animal from the Medicare For All proposal being proposed at the federal level. The biggest and most essential difference is that Medicare For All would be implemented nationwide, eliminating one of the biggest problems with Amendment 69’s plan to implement single-payer health care all by Colorado’s drop-in-the-bucket self. Other small states like Vermont attempting to implement single-payer health coverage on their own quickly discovered the numbers don’t work. A nationwide solution is the only solution.
Almost 79% of Colorado voters voted against Amendment 69, including (this is very important) thousands of progressive Democrats who support “universal health care.” The prior example of Vermont combined with specific problems with the way Amendment 69 would roll out single-payer coverage, like the conflict with Colorado’s constitution that would have eliminated coverage for abortion, are what doomed it to such a lopsided fate–not opposition to the concept of universal health care.
The difference between the state-level Amendment 69 and nationwide proposals for universal health care like the Medicare For All plan being embraced by Democratic candidates at all levels this year is great enough that to simply equate the two like this story does is nothing short of journalistic malpractice. Either the author is too ignorant to know the difference, or he does know and is willingly misleading his readers.
In the end, the effect is the same.