Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dueling anecdotes for/against Obamacare

I've been saying for years that one of the main distinctions between liberals and conservatives is that liberals argue with statistics and facts, and conservatives argue with anecdotes, as in, something that happened to them or somebody they believe. Finally Milbank has noticed it, too [emphasis mine]:

Republicans are right to hammer President Obama for his dishonest — and now debunked — claim that those who like their insurance plans can keep their coverage. Millions who buy their own health insurance will not have that option. The White House knew this during the health-care debate and didn’t tell the truth.

But what Republicans are doing now is dishonest, too, because their constituents’ tales of woe, even if true, aren’t representative. Suppose the worst forecast proves to be true, and 12 million people cannot renew their coverage and must find new policies on the exchanges. In a country of 317 million people, that group would still be dwarfed by the number of people now able to get health insurance for the first time — and by the overwhelming majority of Americans who are largely unaffected by Obamacare.

Using props to make policy may be unreliable, but it’s apparently irresistible.

For political reasons, at this Senate hearing Democrats unfortunately followed suit with their own touching personal anecdotes, because frankly, it's too early for any of us to cite facts & statistics. It wouldn't be sensible or fair to draw any hard & fast conclusions about Obamacare yet, especially with the website not working.

Nevertheless, call me a partisan hack, but I predict that the Affordable Care Act will be with us for decades. It's time we started thinking of it as we do Social Security and Medicare: indelible and ineluctable. And instead of plotting futilely how to trash it, critics should be suggesting how to improve it. Because Obamacare's not going anywhere, sorry.

By Dana Milbank
November 7, 2013 | Washington Post

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