Before he could realize the value of affordable health care, one Republican campaign staffer had to experience what it’s like to be without it.
Clint Murphy, now a real estate agent from Savannah, Georgia, who’s been involved with Republican campaigns since the 1990s, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000 when he was 25 years old. Four years and four rounds of chemo treatment later — all of which was covered by insurance — Murphy was in remission. Insurance wasn’t a problem in his subsequent political jobs — he worked on John McCain’s election campaign in 2008 and Karen Handel’s Georgia gubernatorial run in 2010 — but when he quit politics in 2010 and entered real estate, he realized just how difficult obtaining insurance with a pre-existing condition could be.
In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Murphy said he thought after 10 years since his cancer diagnosis, the insurance companies might cut him some slack — instead, they found something else to charge him for.
“I have sleep apnea. They treated sleep apnea as a pre-existing condition. I’m going right now with no insurance,” he told the AJC.
That’s why Murphy had this to say to his Republican friends who oppose Obamacare on Facebook last week: “When you say you’re against it, you’re saying that you don’t want people like me to have health insurance.”
Murphy says Republicans’ insensitivity towards the health care debate has made it so that he can’t in good conscience call himself a Republican anymore — he now identifies as an independent. He doesn’t think Obamacare is perfect, but he thinks it’s a start, and he says he’s tired of Republicans “not even participating in the process” of improving America’s health care system. Still, he says he’s supporting Karen Handel for Georgia Senate, despite her promise to defund Obamacare, because he thinks she can find a way to improve America’s health care system. Handel says she thinks a proposal from Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), which would provide coverage by incentivizing individuals to purchase coverage through tax credits and deductions, would work in place of Obamacare.
Murphy isn’t the only Republican to have a change of heart on the state of American health care recently. Former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told an audience at the Republican National Committee’s summer meeting last week that if Republicans continue to attack Obamacare but don’t actively work on viable replacements, they’ll lose face among constituents who want to see alternatives to the legislation. Indeed, some constituents are fighting back against representatives who vote to repeal Obamacare — in a town hall in Florida last week, a questioner pressed Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) to answer what will happen to people with pre-existing conditions, or to those who “finally have access to health insurance for the first time in nine or ten years” if Obamacare is repealed.
But many Republicans don’t seem to be budging on the Obamacare debate, instead holding firm to their threats to get rid of the legislation. A survey conducted by The Hill found that most prospective GOP presidential candidates either want to defund Obamacare or kill the legislation using another approach, such as attempting to repeal it. Murphy’s story also comes as Republicans in Congress are considering forcing the government to shut down over the funding of the law. For now, though, the legislation is here to stay — which is good news for Murphy, who says he’ll “absolutely” be signing up for standardized insurance when The Affordable Care Act’s health care exchanges open in October.