Monday, March 15, 2010


The President is in Ohio trying to whip up support for health care reform, so you know what that means: yet another touching anecdote about the suffering caused by the cruel free market: In Ohio, Obama's Health Care Push Is Personal
President Obama, declaring that “every argument has been made” on his health care overhaul, sought to seal the deal with Congress and the American people on Monday by focusing on a single patient: a self-employed cleaning woman who had dropped her costly insurance plan, only to discover she had leukemia.

After weeks of making his case for the legislation in broad strokes — including two similar rallies last week in Philadelphia and St. Charles, Mo. — Mr. Obama used Monday’s appearance to pivot to the personal, as he recounted the story of the cleaning woman, Natoma Canfield — a health care drama that could not have been better scripted for his purposes if he had written it himself.

Ms. Canfield, of nearby Medina, wrote Mr. Obama at the end of December to say that she had been treated for cancer 16 years ago and had been cancer-free for 11 years. But with her premiums rising — she paid more than $6,705.24 in 2009 and had just received notification of a 40 percent increase — she decided to drop her coverage. The president read her letter aloud to a meeting of insurance executives this month, and had hoped Ms. Canfield would introduce him when he appeared here.

Instead, Ms. Canfield’s sister family introduced the president, as Mr. Obama explained to the crowd that, after collapsing last week and being rushed to the hospital, Ms. Canfield had received a new cancer diagnosis on Saturday.

“The reason Natoma is not here today is that she’s lying in a hospital bed, suddenly faced with this emergency — suddenly thrust into a fight for her life,” Mr. Obama said. “She expects to face a month or more of aggressive chemotherapy. And she is racked with worry not only about her illness but about the cost of the tests and treatments she will surely need to beat it.”

The crowd grew momentarily silent, and the president added: “So you want to know why I’m here, Ohio? I’m here because of Natoma.”


Gratifyingly, even the Times notes the absurdity of Obama's claim that he's "here because of Natoma:"
In fact, Ms. Canfield was hardly the only reason Mr. Obama came to Ohio.
Democrats love to portray themselves as rational and intellectual, and in fact that is supposedly one of the roots of Obama's appeal. So how is it that they rely so heavily on this sort of Oprah sob-sister stuff, whether it's someone wearing their dead sister's dentures, or someone who dropped their insurance because the premiums went up?

More important, is anyone even listening anymore? Certainly, the "time for talk is over," but what about the time for listening? We've spent the last 20 years hearing health care horror stories that draw a tear, but we have to have reached the saturation point by now. I'm sure Ms. Canfield is a lovely lady, and it's certainly sad that she is in the hospital right now battling leukemia (while simultaneously establishing that the problem in America is not a lack of health care). But, her tale is absolutely unpersuasive to me simply because I don't think we need to embark on a reckless health reform experiment in order to dry up the supply of health care sob stories for Democratic politicians.

Obama did manage to draw a supportive crowd, so someone out there supports Obamacare, hard as that may be to believe. (I live in Obama Country, but have yet to hear anyone defend Obamacare with the same fervor that SF Republicans had to defend the Iraq War. No one gives enough of a damn). But, he also drew protesters and even (shudder) hecklers:

But there were some protesters outside the hall, and inside, Mr. Obama also faced some hecklers, a rarity at his appearances. At one point, when Mr. Obama warned that health insurance premiums are going up, a woman shouted, “Taxes are, too!”

At another, during a lull in the president’s remarks, a man hollered: “What’s your plan? Jobs!” (Mr. Obama later answered, saying, “Somebody asked what’s our plan? Let me describe exactly what we’re doing.”)

The magic really is gone.

UPDATE: Powerline perfectly captures the absurdity of "Natoma's Example:" It's All About Natoma
Under Obamacare, it would be illegal for Ms. Canfield to drop her health insurance, and the taxpayers would subsidize her legally required insurance policy. But not until 2014. I suspect Ms. Canfield can't wait that long. The Republican plan, on the other hand, would immediately subsidize or initiate state high-risk pools, and can also be expected to lower, rather than raise, individual insurance costs.
UPDATE 2: It's incredible how quickly these sob stories fall apart on closer inspection. Do Democrats ever get embarrassed by this? Via Fox News

Though Canfield's sister Connie Anderson said her sibling is afraid she'll lose her house and Obama warned at an Ohio rally Monday that the patient is "racked with worry" about the cost of tests and treatment, she is already being screened for financial help.

Lyman Sornberger, executive director of patient financial services at the Cleveland Clinic, said "all indications" at the outset are that she will be considered for assistance.

"She may be eligible for state Medicaid ... and/or she will be eligible for charity (care) of some form or type. ... In my personal opinion, she will be eligible for something," he said, adding that Canfield should not be worried about losing her home.

"Cleveland Clinic will not put a lien on her home," he said.

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