The fight for the narrative on Obamacare continues apace, even with the announcement that the Affordable Care Act has achieved what seemed unachievable in November, December, or even as recently as yesterday: Despite the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare website, enrollments to ACA plans have exceeded 7 million. There were some, alas, who attempted to move the goalposts by suggesting to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney that the real measure of success is how many of those enrollees were previously uninsured, a number that is conveniently uncertain.
In his response to ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Carney echoed House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in extolling the many provisions of Obamacare, and while he pointed out that the exact number of uninsured to enroll is impossible to pin down, he did cite a recent Gallup survey that showed the percentage of uninsured people dropping from 17.1% in December to 15.9% in March.
While Karl and Carney are correct that an exact figure is not known, this is not a complete mystery. Later in the briefing, I asked Carney to confirm that the study he cited actually showed a greater drop, from 18% to 15%, since the ACA’s October rollout, and that the survey only included responses from early March (it was actually from Feb. 28), and did not include March’s surge in enrollment. Carney agreed.
I also asked Carney if he thought that this milestone might result in a turning point for television coverage of the Affordable Care Act, which has been uniformly negative, and inaccurate. ” Would that it were so,” Carney replied, and acknowledged that the negative coverage surrounding the rollout of the website “was earned, that’s fair.”
He added that “Having been a practitioner myself, I get it, conflict is news, and good news is often not news.”
“There’s still a conflict here that’s worth covering,” Carney continued, noting that while over 7 million people have enrolled under the ACA, ” there is an active constituency within one party that is making it their number one priority to repeal those benefits, from those millions of Americans.”
Referencing reporting on Healthcare.gov’s temporary outages Monday, Carney said that one thing he found “frustrating” were headlines in major newspapers “that would suggest (Monday) was one of the worst days the Affordable Care Act ever had, when, in fact, it was very much the best day the Affordable Care Act ever had, so I scratch my head over that.”
He also added that the goal is for “people with real stories to tell” to be heard.
President Obama would tell some of those stories a few hours later in the Rose Garden, but the mainstream media, particularly television, is where this battle will be fought, because that’s where the Americans who decide elections are getting their news.