After writing a letter-to-the-editor to a weekly newspaper complaining about MNSure rates, Jennifer Slater of Mabel, Minnesota was used by Republican operatives as a national poster child in their anti-Affordable Care Act crusade.
In late November, the following Slafter accusation was all the rage in the national media and conservative blogosphere.
“All we ever heard about Obamacare is that it would lower our deductibles and premiums,” said Jennifer Slafter, 40 of Mabel, Minn. “That’s just not what’s happened.”
The exchange’s Blue Cross Blue Shield plan was $1,087 a month with a $6,000 deductible, while a Medica plan was $877 a month with a $12,700 deductible. Both are steeper than their current plan.
Conservatives ate this up. Type the first few words of that quote into Google, and you’ll see it appearing in news publications such as CNNMoney and conservative blogs about 10,400 times. Slafter was everywhere.
But it turns out that Slafter was a premature poster child. In paragraph 14 of a 16-paragraph Associated Press follow-up article, we recently learned something new about Slafter’s experience:
Since first going public, (Slafter) said the Fillmore County family found out it is likely eligible for more federal subsidies to help pay for coverage than initially thought. She now doesn’t anticipate the family losing money in the conversion next year.
If you search the first few words of that correction, you see that the article containing the correction appeared in three times, buried at the end of a very long article. As far as I can tell, the correction article does not appear in any of the publications that ran the original article reporting the false claim.
Slafter doesn’t seem to have political motives. Part way through her review process, she just was confused by a confusing system and she was sincerely concerned. It can happen to anyone, and it’s not her fault that she was used as a political pawn by cynical operatives.
Though Slafter’s much publicized assertion that she would be paying more now seems to be completely false, she still finds the system too complex and worries about being able to pay the deductibles. I feel her pain on both fronts, though it should be noted that nothing her conservative promoters are offering would help on those two fronts, because they are offering nothing other than the badly broken status quo system. The best way to reduce complexity for consumers and remove deductibles would be a single payer payer system, which Slafter’s conservative promoters vehemently oppose.
Again, the false assertion gets over 10,000 placements in the conservative echo chamber, and the correction gets 3 hits in the 14th paragraph of the follow-up article. As Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
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