This anecdote, reported by Jason Cherkis after attending an event in Louisville, speaks to a fascinating larger phenomenon.
A middle-aged man in a red golf shirt shuffles up to a small folding table with gold trim, in a booth adorned with a flotilla of helium balloons, where government workers at the Kentucky State Fair are hawking the virtues of Kynect, the state's health benefit exchange established by Obamacare.
The man is impressed. "This beats Obamacare I hope," he mutters to one of the workers.
"Do I burst his bubble?" wonders Reina Diaz-Dempsey, overseeing the operation. She doesn't. If he signs up, it's a win-win, whether he knows he's been ensnared by Obamacare or not.
Yep, that guy in Kentucky has been told so many times to hate Obamacare that he genuinely believes it's awful. But in Kentucky, a red state with a Democratic governor, implementation of the Affordable Care Act is continuing apace with the creation of "Kynect" — the state's new health care marketplace. Indeed, as Cherkis explained, "The state had spent millions establishing the exchange, staffing up outreach, and conducting market research that included holding a dozen focus groups in Louisville, Paducah and London."
And as the anecdote helps demonstrate, it's having some success. People don't necessarily realize that new benefits available in Kentucky have anything to do with the federal law they've been conditioned to reject. It's why they're impressed when they hear the pitch from policy experts like Reina Diaz-Dempsey — the benefits sound like a pretty good deal for folks.
If they think those benefits "beat Obamacare," so be it.