Clint Murphy, a 38-year-old former GOP staffer, offered a surprising message to his conservative peers last week, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. After his own battle against testicular cancer and subsequent struggle to obtain health insurance coverage, he now supports Obamacare, the very program against which the Republican Party has fought for months.
"When you say you're against [Obamacare]," Murphy posted on his Facebook page, "you're saying that you don't want people like me to have health insurance."
As the Journal-Constitution notes, Murphy has worked on various GOP campaigns and for several Republican organizations, starting in 1990s. In 2000, then a 25-year-old staffer for the Republican National Convention, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Murphy received four rounds of chemotherapy treatment, and his cancer was in remission by 2004.
In the years after his diagnosis, Murphy told The Huffington Post, he had a mixed experience with health insurance. His chemotherapy was all covered by insurance, and when he joined Republican Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, he was able to join the campaign's group plan. On the other hand, when he went to work in real estate in 2003, he had "a very hard time" obtaining insurance.
His mother was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2008, prompting Murphy to return home at the election's conclusion instead of finding a new job.
"At the time, I ran the risks with no health insurance," Murphy told HuffPost, explaining that he would go without coverage for the next two years. Although he had been cancer free for years, he was rejected by two major insurance companies on the basis of other pre-existing conditions -- sleep apnea and the use of anti-anxiety medication. He was briefly covered in 2011 under the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan of the Affordable Care Act.
Today, Murphy is again without health insurance. Due to an accounting error, he said, he lost PCIP coverage in 2012 and was directed to reapply in six months. "When it came time to reapply, PCIP had closed enrollment," Murphy explained to HuffPost. "It ran out of money, and Congress wouldn't reauthorize additional funds."
Murphy, who now identifies as an independent, told HuffPost that although he did not leave the GOP over health care reform, he is disillusioned with the party's response to Obamacare.
He noted to the Journal-Constitution the irony that repeal of Obamacare could potentially push more people like him into poverty, increasing Americans' dependence on assistance programs that are "increasing the cost of government."
"We have people treating government like a Broadway play, like it's some sort of entertainment," he told the Journal-Constitution. "To make something work, you've got to participate in the process. [Republicans] are not even participating in the process."
Of course, Murphy noted, the law is imperfect. "There are some parts of the law that have legitimate problems and need to be addressed by the House and the Senate through the legislative process," he told HuffPost. "But the Republican 'all or nothing position' is creating an unnecessary stalemate that puts people like me at an incredible risk."
While most GOP lawmakers have not offered support for Obamacare, several prominent Republicans, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, have similarly stressed that the party should be focusing on alternative solutions, rather than singularly attacking the president's program.
Talk of defunding the program and the looming possibility of a government shutdown may threaten the Affordable Care Act. For now, however, Murphy is looking forward to signing up when Georgia's health care exchanges open in October.
"As a cancer survivor, I live in constant fear that it could always come back," Murphy told HuffPost. "[I] am just counting down the days till I can apply through the exchanges for coverage," he said, "and praying that nothing goes wrong with my health between now and then."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested that Clint Murphy first left political work in 2010 and that his differences with the GOP focused on health care reform. In fact, he initially went to work in real estate in 2003, and his decision to leave the Republican Party was driven by a broader rethinking of issues. This story has also been updated with further information from Murphy about his history with health insurance coverage and his thoughts on the GOP.