At a CNN town hall event with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan Thursday night, a cancer survivor named Jeff Jeans movingly told of his conversion from strident opponent of Obamacare to cancer survivor who owes his life to President Obama. Ryan's response was to lie through his teeth about the law that saved the man's life.
One of the most powerful moments of CNN's town hall event with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) was former Obamacare opponent Jeff Jeans' moving tale of discovering he had treatable cancer, but could only receive treatment because of the Affordable Care Act. Jeans even took the moment to thank President Obama:
TAPPER: He was a lifelong Republican, and then something happened. Joe.
RYAN: Come back. [laughter]
JEANS: I was a Republican and I worked for the Reagan and Bush campaigns. Just like you, I was opposed to the Affordable Care Act. When it was passed, I told my wife we would close our business before I complied with this law. Then, at 49, I was given six weeks to live with a very curable type of cancer. We offered three times the cost of my treatments, which was rejected. They required an insurance card. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I'm standing here today alive.
Being both a small business person and someone with pre-existing conditions, I rely on the Affordable Care Act to be able to purchase my own insurance. Why would you repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement?
RYAN: Oh, we — we wouldn't do that. We want to replace with something better. First of all, I'm glad you're standing here. I mean, really — seriously. [applause]
JEANS: Can — can I —
RYAN: No, really.
JEANS: Can I say one thing? I hate to interrupt you.
RYAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JEANS: Can I say one thing? I want to thank President Obama from the bottom of my heart, because I would be dead if it weren't for him.
Ryan smiled uncomfortably through the moment, then hamfistedly changed the subject to how Ryan knows a guy who had a job in the man's town one time. Safely distanced from Jeans' moving endorsement of the law that saved his life, Ryan launched into a litany of lies about it (full transcript here):
Ryan's biggest lie is his most obvious, because Republicans have already begun to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Next, Ryan quoted the misleading premium rate increase for Arizona, which does not factor in subsidies or lower-cost plans nor the lower prices that states like Arizona paid during the first few years of Obamacare, and does not account for the fact that only 3 percent of Americans are affected by those increases.
In a particularly insensitive moment, Ryan explains to Jeans how "really expensive people" like him can be taken care of in high-risk pools that do not, and never have, worked. High risk pools do not cover enough people, they cost too much, and they require funding that could be put to better use expanding subsidies to those about whom Ryan is so concerned.
As for Ryan's condescending explanation of an actuarial "death spiral," the American Academy of Actuaries says that is not the case, as is obvious from the record number of Obamacare signups this year and record low uninsured rate.
Although Ryan's many lies went unchallenged on-air, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's office put out a statement correcting the record, and denouncing Ryan's performance:
At tonight’s CNN Townhall, Speaker Ryan couldn’t help himself but spew misleading claims about the Affordable Care Act and Medicare. But this is what Speaker Ryan and Congressional Republicans don’t want you to know:
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, MEDICARE AND REPUBLICANS
— Up to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions now have protection.
— 20 million previously uninsured Americans have newfound health security.
— 56 percent of those who have found newfound health coverage are non-minorities.
— The quality of health care has improved — with, for example, Medicare enrollees having avoided 565,000 unnecessary hospital admissions.
— Medicare beneficiaries in the ‘donut hole’ have saved more than $23.5 billion on their prescription drugs.
— A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would reward “400 super-rich U.S. households” with a massive tax giveaway.
— Under the Republican proposal, older Americans would once again be on their own to manage expensive health conditions while they wait to enroll in Medicare.
— The Republican plan will put big insurance companies back in charge of Americans’ health care AND would cause premiums to spike.
— The Republican plan to repeal health care will increase prescription drug costs, premiums, and out-of-pocket costs for American families.
Speaker Ryan can twist words and spin phrases all he wants, but the American people know the facts: the Affordable Care Act works and Republicans want to Make America Sick Again.
Democrats will not allow Republicans to deliberately misinform the public and work to dismantle the health and economic security of hard-working Americans.
Democrats like House Leader Nancy Pelosi are leading the charge against repeal, but can count on no help from the corporate media, which has consistently lied about and smeared Obamacare. It is up to concerned citizens like Mr. Jeans and the Shareblue community to help out by telling our stories, and when we can, by setting the facts straight.
Obamacare saves lives. Repealing it will endanger them.