In the annals of Obamacare hatred, nothing quite tops the ad posted the other day by a right-wing front group for the Koch brothers. I’m referring, of course, to the ad where a woman is being forced to spread her legs for Uncle Sam.
Sorry to sound so tawdry. But hey, this is what the Koch group, Generation Opportunity, is currently circulating online, allegedly for the edification of young females. You’ve got to wonder why conservatives are always so obsessed with ladies’ private parts – vaginal probe bills, ultrasound laws, Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” slur, and much more – but for now let’s talk about this Koch ad. Because it epitomizes the right’s last-ditch bid to wreck the health reform law that has been validated by a presidential election and the U.S. Supreme Court.
A spokesman for Generation Opportunity says it’s targeting Obamacare with a $750,000 ad budget because “we heard consistently that young people didn’t understand the law.” Hence, a great opportunity to sow further misunderstanding via a toxic mix of lies and hypocrisy.
The Obama administration wants young uninsured adults, aged 19 to 34, to buy coverage in the health insurance marketplaces that open for business on Oct. 1. The aim is to get at least 2.7 million signees – because young, healthy adults will help offset the costs of insuring older and sicker signees. The insurance companies understand this, which is why they’re currently working with Team Obama, in a private-public partnership, to enlist newbie adults. But the Koch front group wants to dissuade young people from signing up, and what better way than to scare the bejeezus out of them?
Enter the ad that stars Uncle Sam, who looks like he was spawned by Chucky the killer doll.
It’s a simple ad to describe, probably because it was produced by simple minds. An innocent young lady goes to her doc for a gynecological exam, but instead grinning Uncle Chucky rises from somewhere beneath the gurney, snaps on surgical gloves, and squeezes a speculum. Then comes the message: “Don’t let the government play doctor. Opt Out of Obamacare.” (A similar ad, aimed at innocent young men, shows Uncle Chucky preparing to administer a prostate exam.)
Wow. Where to begin.
For starters, these ads recycle the endlessly recycled lie that Obamacare is a government-run program. No. The private insurance industry is offering the coverage. There’s a profit motive. The industry is trying to drum up new business; uninsured young people are an untapped market. I had always assumed that conservatives – who, two decades ago at the Heritage Foundation, hatched the idea of privately-run health reform and a purchase requirement – were fervently and consistency pro-business. The insurance industry – a potent arm of the private sector, not some imaginary socialist cabal, is out there touting Obamacare to young adults, and it’s poised to spend $1 billion on marketing.
And the Koch front group’s entire premise is faulty. It says that young adults are being unfairly dragooned by the government into signing up for health coverage that they typically won’t need; therefore, these healthy people, via their payment of premiums, will be subsidizing the care of older, sicker citizens. Oh, the inhumanity. But guess what: This is precisely what happens every day in the private sector workplace. According to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly 20 million young adults aged 19 to 34 already get their coverage from their private employers, in a wild socialist experiment called “group health insurance” – where their premiums essentially subsidize the care of older, sicker workers.
I guess there’s no room for such nuances in a 30-second ad.
But what’s worse is the rank hypocrisy. It’s fascinating to see conservatives complain about government playing doctor – when, in reality, and in hock to their ideology, they’re the ones who relentlessly use government to play doctor. Especially with women.
In 2013 alone, Republicans in at least eight red states have introduced at least 13 bills that would compel women seeking abortions to undergo ultrasounds; in some instances, these Republicans have said that because abdominal ultrasounds don’t work well during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, transvaginal ultrasounds should be required. It would be more appropriate to link the Republicans to that maniacally leering Uncle Sam – but there’s no need to sink to their level. I’ll leave it to them to smear a traditional icon of American patriotism.
And what’s the Koch ad really saying – that it’s better for an uninsured young woman not to have regular health screenings? That it sucks to have low-cost health coverage as opposed to no coverage? Anything that muddies the waters, exploits public ignorance, and undercuts the law of the land is apparently fair game. And young people are the pawns.
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