Another "Why did Kentuckians vote to take Obamacare away from themselves?" piece, this time from Vox's health reporter Sarah Kliff, as she takes a look at Kathy Oller. Oller's job is to help sign people up for Kynect in Whitley County, where 82% of the people there voted for Donald Trump in November.
Including, it turns out, Kathy Oller.
I spent last week in southeastern Kentucky talking to Obamacare enrollees, all of whom supported Trump in the election, trying to understand how the health care law factored into their decisions.
Many expressed frustration that Obamacare plans cost way too much, that premiums and deductibles had spiraled out of control. And part of their anger was wrapped up in the idea that other people were getting even better, even cheaper benefits — and those other people did not deserve the help.
There was a persistent belief that Trump would fix these problems and make Obamacare work better. I kept hearing informed voters, who had watched the election closely, say they did hear the promise of repeal but simply felt Trump couldn’t repeal a law that had done so much good for them. In fact, some of the people I talked to hope that one of the more divisive pieces of the law — Medicaid expansion — might become even more robust, offering more of the working poor a chance at the same coverage the very poor receive.
The political reality in Washington, however, looks much different: Republicans are dead seton repealing the Affordable Care Act. The plans they have proposed so far would leave millions of people without insurance and make it harder for sicker, older Americans to access coverage. No version of a Republican plan would keep the Medicaid expansion as Obamacare envisions it.
The question is not whether Republicans will end coverage for millions. It is when they will do it. Oller’s three years of work could very much be undone over the next three years.
In southeastern Kentucky, that idea didn’t seem to penetrate at all — not to Oller, and not to the people she signed up for coverage.
“We all need it,” Oller told me when I asked about the fact that Trump and congressional Republicans had promised Obamacare repeal. “You can’t get rid of it.”
And that's typical. The noise machine spent six years convincing white America that Obamacare was doomed to fail with all those people on it, so they voted for Republicans who would tweak the program and cut off those people who didn't deserve benefits. Not like hard-working Americans like the people of Whitley County, Kentucky.
As Sarah Kendzior said back in May, Donald Trump won because he was the candidate of anguish.
Unlike Hillary Clinton, who seeks to continue Barack Obama's legacy, or Bernie Sanders, who offers hope through sweeping change, Mr. Trump homes in on anguish. He assures Americans that their fate is not their fault. He pledges to end their pain. And he does so by promising the public persecution of the most vulnerable citizens: ethnic, religious and racial minorities.
In Mr. Trump's campaign, long-time losers – the mostly white industrial workers whose jobs began to disappear in the Reagan era – are promised to become instant winners, through means he has yet to articulate. The rest will be fired: denounced, deported, devalued. Mr. Trump redefines America through the politics of exclusion. He is tearing the country apart, and he will likely win what is left of it in November.
They're finding out now that the bulk of people on Obamacare were always poor white folk from the hills anyway, and that they're going to be the first people with their heads on the block when the axe comes thundering down. But guess what? I have little sympathy for people who thought they were gladly condemning others to lose their health care in order to benefit themselves. They voted for Trump because he was going to "fire" those people and make white America great again. Trump sold them the dream and they bought the coming nightmare hook line and sinker.
"Trump will take Obamacare from those people who don't deserve it, but never from me and my family."
That'll be on the gravestone of the Affordable Care Act in 2017.
It should be on the gravestones of a lot of Kentuckians over the next four years too.