A Peek At Tom Price’s Porno Collection

There’s No Other Way to Describe HHS’ Anti-ACA Videos
By Ron Shinkman

For decades, about the only time healthcare and pornography intersected were videos where one of the performers donned (at least for a while) a doctor’s smock or nurse’s hat. Now thanks to Tom Price, the right-wing nut who heads the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency’s YouTube site has become the PornHub of healthcare.

            On that site, there are 12 video testimonials from individuals and families who claim they have been “burdened by Obamacare.” They are divided into three groups: Families, doctors/healthcare professionals and small businesses owned by women. All of the videos have something in common: They are either remarkably misleading or contain outright lies.

            My “favorite” one of these videos features Christine Chalkey and her son Jacob of Streator, Ill. She starts off by saying her son is developmentally disabled and that he’s a “medical enigma” because his brain is “so malformed.” That’s despite the fact Jacob, who is sitting beside her, can get a fully-formed sentence out his mouth far faster than his patronizing mother.

            Christine Chalkey said her son briefly lost supplementary Medicaid coverage due to the expansion of the program under the ACA. But what really happened is the state of Illinois made the cuts to a program for medically fragile children to close a budget gap. She admits this herself in the video.

            “Our government was expanding Obamacare through Medicaid and they had to make cuts,” she said. Again, watching the video causes confusion as to which Chalkey actually has the neurological issue, but perhaps I’m splitting hairs.

            Then there’s John Levelle of Lumberport, W. Va., grousing that his premiums have tripled to $900 a month after he had to take early retirement to care for his wife. Public records say Levelle and his wife are 63; the net cost of those additional premiums is about $20,000 before they qualify for Medicare, which he says he’s paying out of their substantial savings. But that will be vastly less than the money he threw out the window by taking early Social Security payments: About $160,000 over the next 20 years, I estimate. No answer on why Levelle and his wife didn’t try to qualify her for disability, allowing her to enter Medicare earlier.

            There’s also Amy Dean of Fort Worth, Texas, who claimed a local children’s hospital wouldn’t even take a look at her son’s leg “because they would get sued by Obamacare.” No explanation what that meant.

            Among the doctors, there’s Philadelphia orthopedic surgeon Joseph Abboud, M.D., insinuating that anyone under the age of 26 who’s on their parent’s plan isn’t actually covered if they’re not living in their parents’ state. There’s radiologist Jill Vecchio, M.D., who’s biggest claim to fame is changing the word “wealth” to “handouts” in a famous Samuel Adams quote to justify why no one should have healthcare coverage. There’s Ryan Stanton, M.D., the Kentucky emergency room doctor who says millions of Americans have out-of-pocket costs that are too high. That would have been made remarkably worse by the recent GOP push to repeal the ACA, so his presence on the site is puzzling at best.

            Among the women business owners, there’s Tracie Sanchez of an Ohio firm that makes custom pallets. She claims the ACA forced her to turn down contracts to stay under 50 employees so she didn’t have to comply with coverage mandates – as opposed to being ambitious and assuming such additional expenses are part of growing one’s business. She also dropped coverage entirely for her workforce. That’s understandable: Sanchez made no political donations in 2010, the year the ACA became law. But she gave nearly $10,500 in the last election cycle to Donald Trump and various Ohio Republicans. Therefore there was no money left over for health insurance for her workers – which she suggested in the video are mostly convicted criminals. Given those circumstances, I hope she has good insurance of her own.

            I have to tip my hat off to Price: He managed to not only completely pervert the intent of the law by posting these videos, but he apparently used funds earmarked for promoting the ACA to produce them.

             Nevertheless, not a single person has called for him to resign for these shenanigans, which would make Leni Riefenstahl and perhaps even Joseph Goebbels blush.

            Of course, many people would claim there’s no pornography here. But I would say there is. These videos appeal to the GOP’s prurient interest of depriving millions of people of their healthcare coverage; it offends the community standards that any decent human being would have about ensuring their neighbor didn’t drop dead on the street because they have no access to healthcare; and they sure as hell have no redeeming social value.

            In other words, these videos, produced by a government agency charged with promoting the health of all Americans, are obscene. I know it when I see it.


Ron Shinkman is the Editor of Payers & Providers. 
The above Op-Ed does not necessarily reflect the opinion of MCOL