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Dick Polman: Fox News fan says Obamacare saved his life

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Dick Polman
May 1, 2014

Dean Angstadt, a self-employed logger with a bad heart, says it's really quite simple: If he hadn't signed up for Obamacare when his life was on the line, if instead he had continued to heed the lies on Fox News, he “probably would have ended up falling over dead.”

For the Obamacare haters, this kind of real-life success story is the ultimate nightmare—because the story is told in the patient's own words. This is a guy who had adamantly refused to sign up for Obamacare, taking his cues from the disinformation haters on Fox News—until he realized his clueless conservatism would put him 6 feet under.

In other words, this story—which has gone national, after first appearing in The Philadelphia Inquirer—is diametrically different from the typical Obamacare horror story ginned up by the Republican Right. The Dean Angstadt story comes directly from Dean Angstadt. It's not a story spun by the Koch brothers (like the Julie Boonstra ad in Michigan, now debunked), or filtered through a Republican politician (like Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers' claim that “Bette in Spokane” was hit with a premium hike of $700 a month, thanks to Obamacare; then it turned out that Bette Grenier in Spokane could get cheaper and better coverage on the state's health exchange, thanks to Obamacare).

Angstadt, who lives in a town north of Philadelphia and works in the woods, had a bum ticker that was dangerously ticking down. He could barely walk 50 feet without gasping for breath. This winter, his doctor told him he needed valve-replacement surgery. Problem was, Angstadt didn't have health insurance. A friend of his, retired firefighter Bob Leinhauser, urged him to sign up for Obamacare so he could get the life-saving procedure.

But for months, Angstadt refused to do it. Why? Because, in his words, “I don't read what the Democrats have to say about (the health reform law) because they're full of it. … I didn't trust this Obamacare.”

And why didn't he trust it? Because, as he later told The Washington Post, he got his regular infauxtainment from “Fox News, of course, that's basically what I watch on TV. … I like some of those radicals.” Did Fox News condition him to boycott Obamacare? “Yeah, yeah—they get people fired up.”

Rather than sign up, “I was going to die. I was preparing myself.” But his persistent friend finally prompted him to change his mind. Angstadt did the online procedure in less than an hour and paid his first monthly premium of $26.11. He says, “I got my card, and it was actually all legitimate.” The coverage kicked in March 1. He got the valve-replacement surgery March 31. He's alive and recovering.

And gee, listen to him now: “A lot of people I talk to are so misinformed about the ACA. … Not only did it save my life, it's going to give me a better quality of life. … I'm trying to help other people who are like me, stubborn and bullheaded, who refuse to even look (at Obamacare). From my own experience, the ACA is everything it's supposed to be, and, in fact, better than it's made out to be.”

He later told The Post, “I didn't care for Obama. I can't say nothing bad about him now, because it was his plan that probably saved my life.”

Unless the haters and trolls can come up with something, we're left with the story just as it is: An average Joe says in his own words that if he had hewed to the right-wing con job, “I probably would have ended up falling over dead.”

And we'll be hearing many more such testimonials in the years ahead, as the law is further woven into our fabric. In future town hall meetings, rest assured, the Dean Angstatds of this world will be telling their politicians, “Keep your government hands off my Obamacare!”

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Philadelphia. Email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com. His columns are distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.



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