Obamacare subsidizing some dreamers


By Paul Chesser | Special to Watchdog.org

With 11 albums to his credit, singer-songwriter Chuck Brodsky – while not a big name on the music scene – has seen success.

MUSIC MAN: Chuck Brodsky is an Asheville, N.C.-based folk-rock storyteller.

The Asheville, N.C.-based folk-rock storyteller enjoys other fruits of his labor, including co-ownership with his wife of a Buncombe County $233,000 home on 2.5 wooded acres.

He takes his music wherever he can find opportunities to play, mostly throughout the Southeastern U.S. He makes an annual trip to Major League Baseball’s Spring Training in Florida and tours Ireland. He’s in demand as a trainer and adviser at national songwriting conferences.

But there is one life expense that many Americans consider essential, that Brodsky – despite his accomplishments – said he can’t afford. That’s health insurance.

According to an Associated Press report last week about North Carolinians’ enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act, Brodsky signed up for a plan on Healthcare.gov that will require him to pay only $7.43 per month.

“(Brodsky) said Tuesday his low income allowed him to qualify for subsidies,” AP reported. “More than 90 percent of North Carolina policy buyers qualified for government subsidies in the first five months of policy open enrollment, outstripping the national average of 83 percent of buyers….

“Online discussions with peers, who like Brodsky, are making a living as acoustic singer-songwriters led him to shop for himself, he said.”

That means taxpayers and other Americans who pay higher premiums will subsidize the actual cost of Brodsky’s coverage. A conservative news aggregation Web site in North Carolina – CarolinaPlottHound.com –frequently has called attention to the impacts from Obamacare to the private sector and in jobs, and also highlighted aspects of the law that don’t encourage employment. (Disclaimer: Chesser is publisher of CarolinaPlottHound.com.)

For example, a Congressional Budget Office analysis last month estimated that provisions in the ACA means the equivalent of 2 million full-time workers would be better off leaving employment in order to obtain lower-cost health care.

CarolinaPlottHound linked the AP story last week and called attention to Brodsky’s situation with the headline, “Another Obamacare Slacker.” The portrayal spurred a backlash on social media against the website and elicited debate – and Brodsky’s own ire.

“Carolina Plott Hound knows nothing of my situation and was way out of line with his or her comments about me,” Brodsky wrote on Facebook. “This person obviously has no clue what it’s like to try to make a living as an artist. However he or she is quite full of assumptions. How sad that somebody could get so bent out of shape over somebody benefiting from Obamacare.”

Many others came to his defense as well.

“I wouldn’t call him a slacker, he’s just taking advantage of the system we allowed to be set up, in the same way tax deductions and breaks are taken,” wrote one commenter. “These stories will probably help get the enrollment numbers of the young and healthy up.”

“It’s easy to believe that Mr. Brodsky should ‘get a real job’ rather than have to depend on tax-subsidies,” wrote another. “But it’s also unreasonable to suggest that anyone and everyone who benefits from tax-subsidies should eschew them in favor of some moral high ground where they are not a ‘burden’ on their fellow taxpayer. Yes, the ACA is a train-wreck, but that’s not the fault of Mr. Brodsky.”

Equally passionate were opponents of the health insurance law.

“I don’t blame you Chuck,” commented one detractor. “You are just receiving the benefit of a bad law. You do serve however as an example of why it is a bad law. The Left claims to be all about fairness and yet, a man who is perfectly able to pay for his own healthcare is getting subsidized by people who are struggling to make ends meet.”

“Chuck, you chose your work as an artist,” added another ACA opponent. “You chose to make so little that you need a huge subsidy for health insurance. Thus you should not benefit from Obamacare – your choices, your expenses. Get a job that will pay you well enough to afford your own health care.”

Brodsky’s experience bore some similarities to that of a young North Carolina mother who left full employment to pursue her passion. According to the Charlotte Observer, Jennifer Busco quit her full-time bartending position at a city Westin Hotel in 2010 so she could launch her own business as a yoga instructor. That move did not sufficiently improve her situation where she could afford health insurance on her own, however. She qualified for an Obamacare subsidy of $422, meaning she only has to pay $27 per month in insurance premiums.

“Now I can sleep at night,” she told the newspaper. “I’m not tied to one employer for health insurance.”

Cases like Brodsky’s and Busco’s are painted by the Obama administration and Democrat advocates for the ACA as success stories. As the Daily Caller reported when the Congressional Budget Office analysis came out, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Obamacare enabled people to escape “job-lock” from unappealing employment. And White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement, “At the beginning of this year, we noted that as part of this new day in health care, Americans would no longer be trapped in a job just to provide coverage for their families, and would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

Avik Roy, a health care policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s former campaign and now opinion editor for Forbes, mocked the perverse incentives embedded in the law.

“Bored with your job?” he posited. “No worries — now you can quit, thanks to the generosity of other taxpayers. Want to retire early? No worries — now you can, thanks to the generosity of other taxpayers, and also thanks to the higher premiums that young people will be forced to pay on your behalf.

“The White House’s apparently sincere belief … is that it’s a good thing for fewer Americans to be economically self-sufficient. If you’re one of the chumps out there who still toils away at a challenging job, and still pays taxes so that others can ‘pursue their dreams,’ you have a right to resent the White House’s argument.”

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