“Hooey,” Eh?

Today’s agitprop piece column by Paul Krugman features the claim that apparently, only “actors” in commercials get notices informing them that their insurance plans have been canceled because of Obamacare (in fact, nearly 93,000 people in Louisiana have lost or are losing their health care plans). It also puts forth the following assertion:

. . . the true losers from Obamacare generally aren’t very sympathetic. For the most part, they’re either very affluent people affected by the special taxes that help finance reform, or at least moderately well-off young men in very good health who can no longer buy cheap, minimalist plans. Neither group would play well in tear-jerker ads.

No, what the right wants are struggling average Americans, preferably women, facing financial devastation from health reform. So those are the tales they’re telling, even though they haven’t been able to come up with any real examples.

As such, Krugman’s column is entitled “Health Care Horror Hooey.” This is the part where I turn over the microphone to Stephen Blackwood:

When my mother was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer in 2005, when she was 49, it came as a lightning shock. Her mother, at 76, had yet to go gray, and her mother’s mother, at 95, was still playing bingo in her nursing home. My mother had always been, despite her diminutive frame, a titanic and irrepressible force of vitality and love. She had given birth to me and my nine younger siblings, and juggled kids, home and my father’s medical practice with humor and grace for three decades. She swam three times a week in the early mornings, ate healthily and never smoked.

And now, cancer? Anyone who’s been there knows that a cancer diagnosis is terrifying. A lot goes through your mind and heart: the deep pang of possible loss (what would my father and all of us do without her?), and the anguish and anger at what feels like injustice (after decades of mothering and managing dad’s practice, she was just then going back to school).

We, as a family, were scared and angry, but from the beginning we knew we would do all we could to fight this disease. We became involved with fundraising for research, through the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation in Boston; we blogged; we did triathlons (my mother’s idea) and cherished our time together as never before.

Carcinoid, a form of neuroendocrine cancer, is a terminal disease but generally responds well to treatment by Sandostatin, a drug that slows tumor growth and reduces (but does not eliminate) the symptoms of fatigue, nausea and gastrointestinal dysfunction. My mother received a painful shot twice a month and often couldn’t sit comfortably for days afterward.

As with most cancers, one thing led to another. There have been several more surgeries, metastases, bone deterioration, a terrible bout of thyroiditis (an inflammation of the thyroid gland), and much more. But my mother has kept fighting, determined to make the most of life, no matter what it brings. She has an indomitable will and is by far the toughest person I’ve ever met. But she wouldn’t still be here without that semimonthly Sandostatin shot that slows the onslaught of her disease.

And then in November, along with millions of other Americans, she lost her health insurance. She’d had a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan for nearly 20 years. It was expensive, but given that it covered her very expensive treatment, it was a terrific plan. It gave her access to any specialist or surgeon, and to the Sandostatin and other medications that were keeping her alive.

And then, because our lawmakers and president thought they could do better, she had nothing. Her old plan, now considered illegal under the new health law, had been canceled.

Read the whole thing, which details a nightmarish effort to find a new health insurance plan, and then the revelation that contrary to earlier assurances, the new plan that Blackwood’s mother received (through Humana) would not cover “Sandostatin, or other cancer-related medications. The cost of the Sandostatin alone, since Jan. 1, was $14,000, and the company was refusing to pay.” I presume that for Krugman, this story is just “hooey.” For everyone else, it’s nothing short of terrifying. Dollars to doughnuts says, of course, that Krugman won’t mention Stephen Blackwood or Stephen Blackwood’s mom in any future columns or blog posts; why do everything to contradict the false narrative that Krugman is working so very hard to put out? Oh, and I would be very surprised if the New York Times itself does anything to correct Krugman’s piece.

While we are at it, we could point out still more revelations of problems with Obamacare. At the state level, Maryland has been forced to fire the contractor that built its own disastrous state health care exchange. The cost of maintaining HealthCare.gov’s cloud is five times the original estimate. And President Obama’s claim that 7 million people got “access to health care for the first time” has gotten four Pinocchios from Glenn Kessler, which officially makes the president’s statement a “whopper.”

So, the only “hooey” we have here is Krugman’s claim that everything is working just fine, there is nothing for anyone of us to see, and that we should all go home. When Daniel Okrent, the onetime ombudsman for the New York Times, wrote that “Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults,” he was talking about episodes like this one.

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