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Sick man whose Obamacare story went viral could be thwarted by Supreme Court

by Greg Sargent
Washington Post, May 20, 2915

By now you may have learned of the plight of one Luis Lang, a South Carolina man whose story went viral after it was reported that he couldn’t afford to treat an illness that was threatening to make him blind — and blamed Obamacare for it. He has since come around to the view that Democrats may not be entirely to blame for his state of affairs — and says he is going to try to gain coverage through the law.

But there’s another potential twist to the tale: Just as he is now seeking to get on Obamacare, he could very well find himself unable to sign up for coverage, if the Supreme Court rules for the challengers in King v. Burwell next month.

Lang’s story has gone wild on the internet, turning him into a symbol of a number of intertwined narratives about the law: How Republican opposition to the Medicaid expansion has created a coverage gap claiming many low income people; how justifiable confusion about the complicated law is fueling anger at it; and so on.

It all started when the Charlotte Observer reported that Lang, 49, a self-employed Republican handyman who has never bought insurance, developed “bleeding in his eyes and a partly detached retina caused by diabetes.” The paper reported that subsequent medical bills quickly ate up his savings, whereupon he turned to the Obamacare exchange. He discovered his earnings fall below the window to qualify for a subsidy, yet he might not be able to get on Medicaid because South Carolina has not opted into the Medicaid expansion. He risks falling into the “Medicaid gap.”

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