What we know: GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers misled the American people in the Republican response to the President’s State of the Union on Tuesday with a scare story about Bette from Spokane.
What we don’t know: Did McMorris Rodgers do anything to help Bette, her constituent, navigate the options made available to her through the Affordable Care Act and encourage her to find an affordable alternative on Washington State’s individual marketplace? Or did McMorris Rodgers choose instead to turn her “into a poster woman for Obamacare victimization”?
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent:
So what really happened here is that this woman contacted Rep. McMorris Rodgers to complain about the health law — and there’s no indication her Congresswoman’s aides pointed her to the exchange or indicated she could have gotten a better deal from it. Perhaps they did; this makes for a good follow-up question. But it’s certainly possible they didn’t. After all, some Republicans have openly said they won’t be helping constituents with the law. Obamacare foes like to say that’s fair game for Republican lawmakers, but even if that were true, the point is that this tactic may be harming their own constituents.
Bette from Spokane, to be sure, might not have used the exchange even if her Congresswoman’s office had pointed her to it. As Bette put it in the local report, “I wouldn’t go on that Obama website.” There’s no denying this woman was adversely impacted. But it’s at least possible if she’d been told there were better deals there, she’d have taken advantage of them — and if so, the outcome would have been better for her than what did happen, which is that she’s gone without coverage…
One other point: While McMorris Rodgers’ office claims “hundreds” from the region got in touch with concerns about the law, Timothy Egan reports that in her district, signups for coverage on the exchange are well above the national average. This, even though McMorris Rodgers “has been screening town hall meetings to highlight only critics of the new law.”
The case of Bette fits into this very neatly. Even though the exchange could have gotten her a better deal, it was a better political outcome for Republicans that she didn’t avail herself of that option. And precisely because she didn’t, she was turned into a poster woman for Obamacare victimization.