The latest brouhaha over healthcare comes from a blonde bombshell who wasn’t even old enough to vote when Obamacare was created. Tomi Lahren, the 24-year-old darling of conservatism, is back in the news again following her abrupt departure from Glenn Beck's media network. Although Lahren loudly parted ways with Beck over her unexpected support for pro-choice positions, breaking sharply with staunch conservatives’ abhorrence of abortion in any and all forms, she has otherwise remained true to her roots of liberal-bashing.
Unsurprisingly, the right-wing millennial pundit is a critic of Obamacare, and was willing to argue her views at Politicon. Tomi Lahren was interviewed at Politicon by liberal provocateur Chelsea Handler, and ended up admitting that she was… still on her parents’ health insurance. For Lahren, who is often viewed as the heir to Ann Coulter, to admit to relying on a key feature of Obamacare – the law she loves to hate – is rich irony indeed!
The Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare, changed the health insurance game to allow children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26. This provision was intended to help young people retain healthcare coverage until they could land full-time jobs after completing their education. Unlike generations past, most 22-year-old college graduates aren’t exactly landing full-time gigs with benefits these days.
And, with Lahren having been fired from Glenn Beck’s network, it’s not like she’s got employer-provided health insurance anymore.
But, as liberals snicker and laugh and angry conservatives rush to defend their wunderkind darling, a real political drama is affected by Lahren’s inadvertent admission: Many Republican voters rely on Obamacare, perhaps in ways they have not fully realized. As the GOP prepares for yet another run at healthcare reform, energy and momentum may be lagging. Tomi Lahren getting a metaphorical pie in the face at Politicon may actually be the straw that breaks the camel’s back on the Republican Party’s agonizing drive to repealing Obamacare.
The difficulty repealing Obamacare is similar to the difficulty in advancing beyond Obamacare toward single-payer. Despite all the hullaballoo, most people have at least one major thing that they like about their current healthcare, meaning the status quo under Obamacare. For Lahren and, presumably, many other conservatives, it’s the ability for children to remain on Mom and Dad’s health insurance for a few extra years. For others, it’s the fact that pre-existing conditions must be covered. For those in the lower-income brackets, it’s the Medicaid expansion that went along with Obamacare.
Many citizens, myself included, have various gripes and groans about Obamacare. But it is notoriously difficult to remove a government program once it has been implemented, and people don’t like change. Despite Republicans’ rants about Obamacare, it is highly likely that many do not genuinely want to see the law repealed – they have gotten used to it, warts and all. It is the devil they know. If Donald Trump and his cronies repeal Obamacare, there will be a new devil. Nobody likes health insurance corporations, so very few people are assuming that things will be cupcakes, rainbows, and unicorns after any Obamacare repeal.
Just like there was with Obamacare implementation, there will be tremendous uncertainty with Obamacare repeal… uncertainty that consumers and businesses do not want.
Lahren’s surprising reliance on a major pillar of Obamacare underscores the hidden public resistance to repealing the law. Support for Obamacare, though decidedly tepid, is now at 50 percent or higher. It ain’t pretty, but it’s better than what came before.
Liberals who want to shut down future Republican attempts to repeal-and-replace Obamacare may find success in doing a little digging and discovering just how many Republican figures benefit, either themselves or close family members, from Obamacare. How many adult nieces, nephews, and grandchildren of congressional Republicans are enjoying life on their parents’ health insurance? Or, more pointedly, how many relatives of congressional Republicans suffer from pre-existing conditions?
Shining a spotlight on Republican hypocrisy when it comes to Obamacare beneficiaries may quickly sap any desire to continue the healthcare fight. Being publicly exposed as a healthcare hypocrite is not something any legislator wants as the 2018 midterms loom, especially in competitive districts. Having one’s family outed as Obamacare beneficiaries will only make Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act look foolish or sycophantic. Are they really so slavishly devoted to Donald Trump that they would harm their own family members to score brownie points with the administration?
Or, perhaps, many Republican legislators simply don’t know just how many of their constituents, and friends and family, are beneficiaries of Obamacare. Seven years after the creation of the Affordable Care Act, it is quite possible that many self-proclaimed politicos actually know relatively little about the law. Many of those who criticize Obamacare may be unaware that pre-existing conditions are not covered without the law, or that those between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-six are not allowed to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies. For Tomi Lahren, this ignorance was bliss and the awakening was painful!