Flu shots and lies

Author: Barrett Rainey

This being the season for flu shots, I was sitting in a clinic waiting room this week with seven other seniors awaiting the seasonal puncture.

The other six apparently knew each other and – while we waited – they had a lively discussion about health care. Specifically “Obamacare.” All opposed it and each had animated – if false – “facts” to support their opposition. They used words like “socialism,” “communism,” “big brother,” “government interference” and other colorful adjectives.

Then, one by one, all surrendered to the nurse for the necessary swab and shot, signed a form and were on their way. The form each signed showed the name of the clinic, who administered what, and medical coding for the vaccine. And a charge of $57 each – to be paid by the federal government’s Medicare program. That old “socialist” health care. The 60-year-old precursor of today’s Affordable Care Act – the dreaded “Obamacare.”

Now, I live in a part of Oregon in which Vlad the Impaler would be an acceptable candidate for any public office for much of the population. Moderates are extremists. Liberals are only good for boat anchors. But conservatives – of any stripe – are “God’s chosen people.” The problem is – as affirmed in conversations with local friends – too many get their “news” from sources that simply affirm their beliefs. Like the Romney campaign of 2012, there is no room for information that conflicts with their “truth.”

My eavesdropping experience with the flu shot group is not an unusual occurrence in our neighborhood. And far too many others. Republicans have been trying their damndest to kill the ACA. They’ve been spreading disinformation and outright lies for several years. Many – including leaders who know better – still call it a “bill.” It’s LAW. Affirmed up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court. The principle sponsor was elected – and elected again – by a majority of Americans. It’s a damned LAW!

Now they’re crying “I-told-you-so” because there were lots of hiccups in the first days of implementation. I did a little digging in old news files this week to see how smoothly things went in the 60’s when Medicare started – the 70’s when Medicaid came along – and the 2000’s with Pres. Bush’s new Medicare prescription drug program.

It wasn’t hard to find stories of significant problems with the initial rollout of all three. Surprised? Hardly! The first days – the first years – were filled with issues and problems. Even supporters expressed concern. Predictions of failures – for all three – were common.

But they didn’t fail. And the ACA won’t, either.

In my mind, two factors have complicated the situation more recently. One is the I-net. The other is the 24-hour news cycle and the thousands of sources for information. Some true. Too many not. It took six weeks for news of the murder of Abraham Lincoln to reach all the nation. Now, when something happens, we have words within minutes – pictures in an hour. And – too often – maybe facts later. No matter where in the world it is.

The more significant problem is the I-Net. Looking at The New York Times, Washington Post, The Oregonian, or “Seattle P.I., you knew one very important thing. What you were reading had been written by professional reporters and reviewed by professional editors. At the time it was printed, it was fact as far as anyone knew.

Now, with the I-Net, some idiot in East Arm Pit, NM, can post something – anything – put it on a colorful website and pass it off as “fact.” It’s not. But how do you know? You can find professional-looking garbage all over the I-Net masquerading as truth. So, if someone wants to shoot down, oh, let’s say, the ACA, – even a political party – just put it on the old I-Net with lies, pictures and lots of colorful images and – VOILA – it’s “fact!”

The whacko Republicans in Congress and the political party they represent are losing their fight against the ACA. Consider just this one FACT courtesy of the Wall Street Journal. Major health insurers, who funneled $86 million into the battle to kill the ACA before it was born, have stopped the cash flow. Instead, they’re watching their stock prices go up. Up. The same companies – recognizing reality – have adjusted operations to deal with ACA and now enjoy record enrollments. And they appear headed to record profits. So, a major source of Republican funding is no more.

But bad information – the lies – are still out there – being pedaled by politicians who know better and people who won’t bother to find out the real facts. The insulated folk. Like the seven waiting with me for flu shots. Bitching’s easier than research. “O’Reilly says it’s so. So it’s true!”

Here’s a real example of people who refuse to accept fact – or even try to find facts. Consider one Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) – a foe of the ACA with a repeated congressional vote to shut our government. These are his words in The Washington Examiner this week.

“We’re not going to be disrespected,” Stutzman said. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

Another voice of determined ignorance. Who likely doesn’t pay for his flu shot, either.

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