Kudos to NPR All Things Considered anchor Robert Siegel, who on Thursday night pressed liberal Sen. Patty Murray to consider that perhaps Democrats might want to bend a little on Obamacare. He cited a Pew poll showing the partisan blame for a shutdown would be 39 percent Republican, 36 percent Democrat.
But it really got amusing when Murray wouldn’t budge – in fact kvetched that Obamacare was based on a “Republican idea” – when Siegel suggested that if Obamacare remained unpopular a year from now, would she then concede something might be wrong? Murray, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, actually suggested the American people are simply unaware they have already benefited:
SIEGEL: Let me ask you, though, a bigger question. Americans have now experienced some benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Kids can't be excluded from insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Young adults can stay on their parents' policies until they're 26. And the bill, according to the polls, remains essentially unpopular. And I want to ask you: As a supporter of this bill, if people still disapprove of it a year from now, would it then be time to revisit the law and say maybe there's something wrong here?
MURRAY: Well, I think the answer to that question is that a lot of people who are asked about Obamacare don't know that they may have already benefited or have the ability to benefit or they already have insurance and don't see any changes. What we do know is that there are a lot of people who don't have access to health insurance before Obamacare passed. They may have had a pre-existing condition and were denied. They may have somebody - been somebody who didn't even know how to access it or their job didn't apply for it. They were denied health care --
SIEGEL: But it's a rare program --
SIEGEL: It's a rare program if you don't know that they're benefitting from it. People know if they are getting Medicaid or Medicare or food stamps.
MURRAY: Well, you know, actually, the bill is based on a Republican idea, which is to put in place an exchange, which allows you to go on and the insurance companies to compete for your business. And that means that people can have access to that and choose to have access to a competitive marketplace. Much of the provisions of the law such as allowing your kids to stay on until they're 26 or taking away the lifetime caps that have hurt so many people, those kinds of things you may not know until it actually applies to you.
What I heard from a lot of people before we passed health care reform is they didn't know that they would be denied coverage for something until they were diagnosed with it. We're trying to make the market more fair.
SIEGEL: Senator Murray, thanks a lot for talking with us.
The online NPR headline stressed that Murray said replacing sequestration was a "top priority," but Siegel did not ask on that front whether this same semi-conscious American public with its abominable lack of gratitude to Obama has failed to notice any dramatically malignant effects of the sequester.