On the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008, and all the way up until the health care law was passed, Barack Obama told a story about his personal reason for going on a quest to reform the “broken health care system.” The story, repeated often, was that his mother had cancer and spent the last few months of her life arguing with her health insurer, which was supposedly engaged in efforts to deny her coverage and generally making her remaining time miserable.
The New York Times picks it up from there:
But in “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother,” author Janny Scott quotes from correspondence from the president’s mother to assert that the 1995 dispute concerned a Cigna disability insurance policy and that her actual health insurer had apparently reimbursed most of her medical expenses without argument.
How in the world did this bit if information escape the comprehensive mainstream media examination of Barack Obama’s past during the 2008 campaign? Oh wait, there wasn’t one — nevermind.
Or, is this just another crazy claim in a book? If so you’d expect a flat denial from the White House, but that’s not what happened:
On Wednesday, in response to repeated requests for comment that The Times first made in mid-June, shortly after the book’s release, a White House spokesman chose not to dispute either Ms. Scott’s account or Mr. Obama’s memory, while arguing that Mr. Obama’s broader point remained salient.
“We have not reviewed the letters or other material on which the author bases her account,” said Nicholas Papas, the spokesman. “The president has told this story based on his recollection of events that took place more than 15 years ago.”
When Obama was running for president and pitching his plan for government health care, his recollection of events seemed fairly vivid:
“She wasn’t thinking about coming to terms with her own mortality,” Obama said at a rally in September 2007. “She had been diagnosed just as she was transitioning between jobs, and she wasn’t sure whether insurance was going to cover the medical expenses because they might consider this a pre-existing condition. I remember just being heartbroken, seeing her struggle through the paperwork and the medical bills and the insurance forms. So, I have seen what it’s like when somebody you love is suffering because of a broken health care system, and it’s wrong. It’s not who we are as a people.”
From what we’re learning about the story of Obama’s mother and health insurance companies, she could have been used as an example of why the private health system — though it does have it’s flaws — works. Certainly better than anything the government has or ever will devise.
Obama’s story about his mother leaves out one question: Where was Barack Obama during all this? He speaks of his mother as if she was stuck doing all the paperwork and dealing with insurance companies, fighting off continual attempts to end her coverage and struggling to come up with the money for her co-pays all by herself. Did her 34 year old son — a lawyer, community organizer and soon to be bestselling author — help out at all? According to Obama she was at the complete mercy of cold, calculating insurance companies.
It’s looking like the truth is that Obama didn’t have to help out much because his mother wasn’t being jerked around nearly as much as he has claimed, and the story that became the very foundation for the Obamacare pitch is an exaggeration at best, and a fabrication at worst. In other words, pretty much like everything else this administration does.