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Kaiser Permanente’s brave new world, narrated by Cokie Roberts

For some Americans the Obamacare nightmare may be getting worse

Tina Trent author image / /   1 Comments

The Obamacare nightmare isn’t over yet. In fact, it may be getting worse.

My husband and I are self-employed. What that means is we are the canaries in the Obamacare mine, the policy guinea pigs, the marketplace lab rats – pick the puny, defenseless, experimented-upon animal of your choice.

Like Ann Coulter (see her Jan. 25 column, “Can I be the poster child against Obamacare?”), we’re the ones shelling out increasingly outrageous premiums to buy “Bronze” level insurance policies with nosebleed-inducing deductibles, coverage gaps, and dwindling provider options.

Meanwhile, our old college peers who choose to work fun, artsy, part-time jobs, or have family money or assets that don’t count as income, or are riding the government sinecure bus can’t stop cooing about how wonderful it is to pay next to nothing for their “Platinum” coverage.

As it was devised in Washington, the Bronze–Gold–Platinum scheme is a particularly sharp insult to injury. By design, premium Platinum plans are heavily marketed to people paying little or nothing for insurance, including welfare recipients who pay nothing. Why weren’t subsidized recipients given only the Bronze plans since other people were paying for them?

So far in 2017, working and middle-class people are still being forced to subsidize Platinum plans for their indigent and insolent neighbors while struggling to afford the far worse Bronze plans for themselves.

Perhaps elected officials would have a greater sense of urgency about such things if they were subjected to the marketplace they created for the rest of us.

For my family, Obamacare immediately lost us covered access to the “doctor we like” – and on whom we relied for 20-plus years. And after many years of responsibly paying reasonable premiums for reasonable insurance plans, we’ve been forced to change policies three times in three years, each plan costing much more than the last.

This year we were forced to switch companies and doctors again, from Blue Cross to Kaiser. I’d always tried to avoid Kaiser in the past because the company lobbied so hard and dirty for Obamacare. In 2017, because of where I live, I didn’t even have that choice anymore.

During the Obamacare debates, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (technically not associated with Kaiser Permanente but actually its nonprofit capo) engaged in some of the most hate-filled activism attacking opponents of Obamacare.

Like Obama’s creepy, dumbed-down Life of Julia propaganda campaign, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s public advocacy took the form of dark-yet-infantile videos called YouToons.

“Objective journalist” Cokie Roberts narrated the earliest of the YouToons in 2010.

That’s a serious ethical problem.

As Roberts appeared on television and public radio reporting and weighing in on the legislative fight over Obamacare, she was simultaneously appearing in crude propaganda promoting Obamacare and demonizing its opponents. How crude and demonizing? In one “YouToon” narrated by Roberts, animated, Weeble-like people in wheelchairs fall through holes in the ground and are left there by cruel fellow citizens until Uncle Sam and Obamacare rescue them.

In another instance of appalling agitprop, the heroic, Obamacare-supporting Uncle Sam literally takes gold coins from a gray-faced insurance executive and redistributes the gold to a beautiful rainbow of multi-raced little people. Touched, the insurance executive is rehabilitated, accepts smaller profits, and becomes Uncle Sam’s partner.

In reality, Kaiser and other insurance companies made money hand over fist with Obamacare. In reality, those redistributed “gold coins” came from taxpayers, not insurance executives.

How did Cokie Roberts get away with reporting on Obamacare while literally being the official voice of deceptive, pro-Obamacare agitprop?

It gets worse: in addition to violating every rule of objective journalism with her “YouToon” gig, she actually served on the Kaiser Family Foundation board of trustees. That highly influential board coordinated its lobbying for Obamacare with the Obama administration.

And just to add an extra dollop of excrement to Roberts’s cynicism pie, this was also around the time she and her husband were headlining a “civility” scheme with the leftist Aspen Institute  — another thinly veiled, pseudo-objective effort to demonize and exclude from the public square people who disagreed with leftist politics like Obamacare.

The Kaiser Family Foundation videos are still available online. “Health Reform Hits Main Street” (2010) features Cokie and the filthy-lucre-redistribution laugh fest.

In 2013, also-objective journalist and also-Kaiser Family Foundation Board of Trustees member Charlie Gibson narrated “The YouToons Get Ready for Obamacare” in which viewers were promised that hospitals and the very wealthy would pay more to cover Obamacare because “someone’s got to pay,” but consumers would soon see their premiums go down. “The health insurance marketplace is like a virtual insurance megamall,” cartoon narrator Gibson enthused. “Here you’ll find private insurers competing for your business. You’ll be able to pick how much coverage you want and how much you want to pay for it,” Gibson lied.

According to Gibson, money for Obamacare would come from taxes on the “health industry,” an entity, he emphasized, that includes “tanning services.”

Today I received my new health insurance card and affixed to it was a sticker instructing me to call Kaiser to register as a new member. The person who answered chattered at me for several long minutes as I tried to get off the phone. He offered no ordinary insurance-type information and answered no questions, just read from a script designed to force me to engage with the company through the sort of propagandistic busywork that would make a Soviet Young Pioneer troop leader blush.

When I tried to end the call, he expressed surprise that I was clearly unhappy about being made to sit through a little re-education lesson in the guise of signing up for healthcare. “But people love their Kaiser plans,” he said. “We offer you free cooking classes!”

That’s when I blew.

I just took a second job to pay for our terrible, non-insuring health insurance. I wouldn’t have time to drive to the nearest Kaiser Permanente facility to sit in on their propaganda-laden “cooking classes” even if I wanted to do such a thing.

And we little YouToons pay for this too: not just healthcare for every person who subsidizes their life choices with our families’ money, but all the expensive propaganda that can be invented at the terrifying intersection where intrusive big government mates with grasping private industry.

Congress better hurry up repealing this mess. In addition to all the other insults to injuries, the superfluous agitprop that people are being forced to sit through (and pay for) in order to have their pockets picked this year is reaching scary new heights.

Cokie Roberts and Charlie Gibson aren’t real journalists. In addition to violating every principle of journalism, they may have broken lobbying laws too.