John Oliver has been known to pull stunts to get his point across. Like in June of last year when he bought $15 million of medical debt and forgave it all, because he could.
Or in August, when he literally created a for-profit church called Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption to prove a point about televangelists.
The gimmicks are both funny and effective, and lately their audience has been, shall we say, a bit more specific.
On Wednesday, Oliver will run an ad on “Fox & Friends,” a morning talk show on Fox News that President Donald Trump is known to watch regularly, that aims to educate the president on his own proposed health care plan — the American Health Care Act (AHCA).
In his “Last Week Tonight” segment, Oliver was quick to note that the people who will be most adversely affected by the AHCA will be older and poorer Americans.
“Experts say one thing is pretty clear here,” Oliver said, referencing a study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “those who are lower income would be particularly hurt, and that is before we even get into Medicaid — the program that largely provides healthcare to low-income Americans — because that is where this bill gets really vicious.”
Oliver used the example of a 60-year-old man living in Oklahoma, who makes $50,000 per year. Drawing on an interactive study from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Oliver found that this generic Oklahoman would have received an insurance tax-credit of $13,500 per year.
Under the AHCA? That same person would receive just $4,000, because the AHCA proposes flat tax credits based on age — with older people receiving a $4,000 credit and younger people a $2,000 credit.
“There are a lot of people who would be harmed by the switch to these flat tax credits,” Oliver said.
The numbers, Oliver found, were even more frightening when considering Medicaid.
The AHCA would cut $370 billion to Medicaid, creating a funding gap that would have to be filled by individual states.
“Millions of the poorest Americans will lose coverage,” he said, adding later: “This plan is literally taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich, which is essentially a reverse Bernie Sanders.”
At the end of the segment, Oliver pivoted to the ad he will air on “Fox & Friends” in the Washington D.C. area on Wednesday morning, which features a “catheter cowboy” who is quite miffed by his increasing healthcare costs under the AHCA.
“If my premiums go up and subsidies go down, I’m gonna wind up paying more,” the cowboy says in the ad. “That’s like replacing my catheter with a garden hose.”
And while that might not be the enduring image of healthcare in America that we want, it effectively drives home Oliver’s point. A healthcare plan that takes from the poor and gives to the rich is the wrong way to funnel taxpayer dollars, regardless of who you are or where you come from.