Cathy McMorris Rodgers is trolling the Internet for negative stories about Obamacare, while her constituents are signing up for the program at high rates. This disconnect is all you need to know about national politics these days.
Our own Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, in the interests of dispassionate inquiry, recently posed the following scientific question about the Affordable Care Act to the Internet:
“This week marks the 5th anniversary of Obamacare being signed into law. Whether it’s turned your tax filing into a nightmare, you’re facing skyrocketing premiums, or your employer has reduced your work hours, I want to hear about it.
“Please share your story with me so that I can better understand the challenges you’re facing.”
Well, one week and nearly 10,000 shared stories later, the congresswoman probably has learned at least one thing: Never ask the Internet a slanted question. Because nothing slants back at you quite like the Internet.
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From the very first comment (“My story is that I once knew 7 people who couldn’t get health insurance, and now they all have it, thanks to the ACA …) to the 9,880th (“I was recently diagnosed with Fibromuscular Dysplasia and thanks to Obamacare, I know I won’t be dropped by my insurance carrier”), McMorris Rodgers got an avalanche of stories.
All of which she ignored when she called for the total repeal of the law the next day.
These 10,000 stories are unverified, so who knows if they’re true. They might collapse under scrutiny just as the negative outrage stories about Obamacare usually do.
But what’s perplexing, to me, is that a few days before this whole GOP Kabuki theater, our state released some hard data about how the law is actually working out on the ground.
It turns out McMorris Rodgers’ own constituents are flocking to it.
Take Stevens County, where McMorris Rodgers grew up. It’s a scenic county pushed up against the Canadian border and the Columbia River, before it meets the Grand Coulee Dam. But it’s not the easiest place to find a job. The unemployment rate is 12 percent, third-highest in the state.
It’s no coincidence then that 15.5 percent of the adult population to age 65 there has signed up for the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare. That’s the part of the law that extends Medicaid to adults who earn below 133 percent of the poverty level.
That’s a very high sign-up rate. Nationally, the sign-up rate for the adult Medicaid expansion is less than 4 percent (in part because the GOP has blocked it in some states). Regardless, it means the people of McMorris Rodgers’ childhood county are joining this Obamacare program at four times the national average.
Haven’t heard McMorris Rodgers ever mention that.
In neighboring Ferry County, both the Obamacare sign-up rate and the jobless rate (14 percent) are even higher. When I traveled through the rugged ex-mining towns there on a reporting project a few years back, I met plenty of money-poor folks who were living off their land and farm animals. They didn’t have the same level of desperation as the urban poor.
When it comes to going to the doctor, though, I guess they need a bit of help. Because today, one in six adults in deep-red Ferry County has signed up for free Medicaid, thanks solely to Obamacare. (By comparison, the rate in King County is one in 10.)
Couldn’t some Obamacare critic acknowledge, just once, that while the law is cumbersome and needs repair, it’s also obviously helping thousands? Such as their own constituents?
It’s true these are poor people living in out-of-the-way places. The struggles of Kettle Falls or Republic will never register in the national political conversation.
But this is their own congresswoman. She grew up there, picked apples on the family orchard outside Kettle Falls, and went on to become a star.
It shows how phony national politics has become that she’s trolling the Internet for party talking points, when she could walk down the streets of her old hometown. About every sixth person there could probably tell her something interesting about Obamacare, good or bad, because they’re signed up for it. Why not come home and ask them?