Is there a health insurance horror story disseminated by the White House and its allies that ever turned out to be true? Obamacare advocates have exercised more artistic license than a convention of Photoshoppers. Now, a prominent sob story shilled by President Obama himself about his own mother is in doubt. It’s high past time to call their bluffs.
The tall-tale-teller-in-chief cited mom Stanley Ann Dunham’s deathbed fight with her insurer several times over the years to support his successful push to ban pre-existing condition exclusions by insurers. In a typical recounting, Obama shared his personalized trauma during a 2008 debate: “For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.”
But there was something fundamentally wrong with Obama’s story. In a recently published biography of Obama’s mother, author and New York Times reporter Janny Scott discovered that Dunham’s health insurer had in fact reimbursed her medical expenses with nary an objection. The actual coverage dispute centered on a separate disability insurance policy.
Channeling document forger Dan Rather’s “fake, but accurate” defense, a White House spokesman insisted to the Times that the anecdote somehow still “speaks powerfully to the impact of pre-existing condition limits on insurance protection from health care costs” — even though Dunham’s primary health insurer did everything it was supposed to do and met all its contractual obligations.
No matter. Expanding government control over health care means never having to say you’re sorry for impugning private insurers. Democrats have dragged every available human shield into the contentious debate over Obama’s federal takeover of health care. Personal anecdotes of dying family members battling evil insurance execs deflect attention from the cost, constitutionality and liberty-curtailing consequences of the law. The president’s Dunham sham-ecdote is just the latest entry in an ever-expanding catalogue of Obamacare fables:
— Otto Raddatz. In 2009, Obama publicized the plight of this Illinois cancer patient, who supposedly died after he was dropped from his Fortis/Assurant Health insurance plan when his insurer discovered an unreported gallstone the patient hadn’t known about. The truth? He got the treatment he needed in 2005 and lived for nearly four more years.
— Robin Beaton. Also in 2009, Obama claimed Beaton — a breast cancer patient — lost her insurance after “she forgot to declare a case of acne.” In fact, she failed to disclose a previous heart condition and did not list her weight accurately, but had her insurance restored anyway after intense public lobbying.