After an epic onslaught of right wing misinformation, lies and silliness stretched out over the entire life of the healthcare debate -- from the first negotiations through the bill's passage, court review, and now implementation -- it's no wonder polls show many Americans don't understand it.
But you do. The fact that you're here -- and reading a health care diary -- all but guarantees that you understand it better than 90+ percent of Americans. Heck, maybe you're a real expert.
If so -- if you know even a little -- please help others. It's so easy and so important.
Here's what I recently posted to my [social media page of choice], with a link to a recent story from a conservative media outlet's plea to please let Obamacare just fucking work:
"If anyone reading this still does not understand what the Affordable Care Act is or how it will affect them -- or if you know someone else who doesn't understand it -- I'm no expert but would be happy to try to help connect you with the info you need. Truly. Send me a note. Polls say many still don't get it, or know it exists. So let's help each other. Know a lot about ACA? Consider making a similar offer to your friends as well."I've already had a few bites.
I'm willing to bet you know more about the ACA than the vast majority of your friends and family, too. That means if you aren't offering to help others understand it, you're playing right into the right wing's hands. Their current campaign to undermine the law they know they can't defund counts on people like you and me sitting on our hands and watching from the sidelines.
So I encourage everyone reading this to take 45 seconds today and circulate a similar message to their friends and family. You don't have to be an ACA expert; I'm not. But I know it exists, I know it's a positive thing for the nation, I know it brings our budget deficit down, and I know how to connect people who have questions with places that can provide answers. What about you?
Let's break it down:
Use the law's actual name. Polling shows this increases the odds that people will view it favorably (vs. "Obamacare") and anecdotal evidence is popping up of places that are actively avoiding letting people know that the new coverage they're signing up for is Obamacare, lest that drive them away.
Don't sound like an expert (unless you actually are). Just report that you're willing to lend a hand facilitating. Offer to find resources. Offer to get answers. Here are a few places I have been directing people; there are surely others (please share if you know some winners). Some resources will vary by state. I've steered clear of WhiteHouse.gov and political sources here (see below) though those certainly exist as well. Use your judgement.
Err on the casual side. A heartfelt plea that this is the most important thing ever to happen in the history of time, or that your very life depends on getting this coverage, is less likely to be effective. Most apolitical people are tired of hearing about this. They're exhausted and confused and don't want to care. Don't add to the hyperbole and rhetorical windstorm; aim for calm and matter-of-fact. Info conveyed by a friend is many more times likely to be trusted than info conveyed by an actor or a web banner.
Don't play politics. I'd suggest not badgering people with the idea that you're here to counter the misinformation they're hearing on Fox News or offering to rebut the latest Cruz Snooze-fest. You probably have conservative friends who are just as ignorant as other friends about what the ACA is. Don't put them off by rubbing their noses in the politics. As badly as you want to assess blame or score points, don't. Just remind them the law is taking effect, and offer to help.
Suggest they pay it forward. Don't forget to ask your friends to help their friends as well; make the suggestion viral. You probably have friends who know more about the law than you do. Goad them into action as well. They don't need to read this diary for ideas -- they'll probably model their offer after yours. Or improve upon it!Polls showing that huge percentages of Americans just don't understand the reality in front of them are deeply frustrating to me, and we know we can't count on Chuck Todd or his cohorts to spread the word. Hundreds of millions are being spent by myriad governmental agencies at all levels to spread the word, but opponents have the status quo on their side. People actually need to DO something -- to ACT -- for this to work. And this is America. We're a nation of procrastinators, we eat cheese from a can, we complain way too much, and we get lazy. The law's opponents just need to sew enough doubt or confusion or mistrust to derail the law's launch, and they'll slow its implementation enough to ensure that benefits don't reach nearly as many as it should.
Let's help prevent that.
Use email, your social networking site of choice, a note on the office bulletin board, whatever. But make the offer. Don't know enough? Don't worry. Heck, if anyone takes you up on your offer you'll learn together! But don't let your perceived ignorance stop you. Odds are you know a ton more than the average person and don't even realize it.
Let's share what we know and move the ball forward.