Local talk show host Mike Slater is quickly become a force in San Diego politics, interviewing mayoral candidates and making national appearances as a guest on FOX TV. He often concentrates on the issue of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), spending hours per week during his daily show condemning the health care reform measure and citing horror stories that supposedly show major problems with the law. There’s only one problem: at least one of the supposed scary cases that Slater has cited has been debunked, and during discussion on his show he admitted that he doesn’t know the first thing about America’s health insurance situation.
During his radio show on KFMB AM on November 3, 2013, Slater was asked about people who go bankrupt from an illness even though they have medical insurance. Slater said, “I can’t fathom that happening” and “I’ve never actually seen that happen.” In reality, every year hundreds of thousands of people with health insurance have gone bankrupt due to medical bills in the USA. In 2007, even before the financial crisis, over 600,000 people with medical insurance filed for bankruptcy because of an illness, according to The American Journal of Medicine. The number of bankruptcies in subsequent years was much higher and it’s estimated that close to a million people per year with insurance nevertheless went bankrupt after getting sick. Almost a million a year—but Slater has not heard of even one and “can’t fathom it.”
Slater cited the case of Californian cancer victim Edie Sundby who had just published an op/ed article in the Wall Street Journal claiming that her insurance had been cancelled due to the ACA. She furthered claimed that none of the plans on offer through Covered California, the state’s Obamacare website, would cover all her doctors and so she was going to have to change doctors. Slater repeated this story over and over as proof of the evils of the Obamacare. The only problem is that Sundby was mistaken. Her insurance was not cancelled because of the ACA, it was cancelled because the insurance company had decided to leave California altogether, as often happened before the ACA. Also, rather than being harmed by the ACA, Sundby was in fact benefitting from it because the new law ensured that she would be able to get replacement insurance despite her pre-existing condition, something that would have been impossible before. But Slater, still posing as someone knowledgeable about health insurance crisis, never bothered to check the facts on the supposed horror story.
Being very wrong very often has not slowed Slater’s increasing presence in the conservative media, and he was recently on FOX TV to comment on the controversy over remarks against gays by Phil Robertson, star of the reality TV show Duck Dynasty. Slater compared Robertson to Martin Luther King, Jr.