The ways in which the mainstream press have ratfucked Obamacare are too numerous to mention, and so egregious that it’s sometimes difficult to keep up, and you have to ignore “the little things,” like the way every news network has adopted the GOP terminology of an ” extended deadline” for Obamacare enrollments, instead of calling it what it is, what it would be called if anyone else offered it: a grace period.
Sometimes, though, the little things can be illustrative, as this weird exchange that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had with NBC News’ Pete Alexander Monday afternoon.
First, Alexander brought up the much-touted 40% of “young invincibles” that the media keeps saying need to sign up for Obamacare in order to keep premiums reasonable. Carney explained, at some length, that the 40% figure is a CBO estimate of the potential individual market for ” young invincibles,” not the proportion needed to make the markets work. “It is not the case that you have to have 40 percent young adults in order for the insurance markets to work,” Carney said. ” In fact, insurance companies, issuer CEOs have stated quite the opposite.”
To laughter from Carney, Alexander retorted “In fact, one that we spoke to today said the number is closer to 38 percent, but we can debate the number.” Then, he asks Carney if he expects young enrollment to top 30%, and Carney ticked off encouraging figures from insurers, and pointed out that, for purposes of the entire insurance pool, you have to think about enrollment in off-exchange plans, which show signs of high young enrollment. Like a lot of what happens at White House briefings, it’s a whiff for Alexander, news-wise.
Then, he asks Carney if he thinks young enrollment will be enough to keep premiums from skyrocketing next year, and Carney schools him on the safeguards in the law that prevent that. That prompted a weird-ass followup. Alexander only asked Carney about the effect of young enrollment on premiums, but when Carney answers it, Alexander accuses Carney of leaving something out that Alexander didn’t ask about:
It’s weird because it makes no sense, but also because the point Alexander seems to be making is that even if the Affordable Care Act manages to control the cost of health insurance, it will cause the cost of not getting insurance to skyrocket… which is how it manages to control the cost of health insurance.
To a suspicious mind, this seems like nothing more than an excuse to force out a negative fact about the ACA, that there’s a fine, and it will be going up next year. Bias! But there are lots of better explanations, up to and including sometimes, a reporter is desperate not to whiff, to come away with a piece of tape to show for the day. Maybe, like me, he was just super-tired.
The point is, it doesn’t matter what the reason is. Media watchdogs create extra, unnecessary work for themselves when they charge bias. Just stick to the facts.