Bad AP reporting on ‘ObamaCare’ in our local media

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Our sad small-town newspaper, the Arizona Daily Star, continues to publish every AP (All Propaganda) "Obamascare" story that comes across the wire as filler in its newspaper. For example, the recent Health care website frustrates Spanish speakers. (Even the Washington Post's Ezra Klein was duped).

The editors do not vet these AP reports for accuracy. It turns out this "Obamascare" story was inaccurate. Ferando Espuelas disects the AP's misreporting at The Hill. AP wrongly says ObamaCare site written in Spanglish:

Spanish was my first language. And while I cannot compete with the august members of the Royal Spanish Academy of language in Madrid, I can tell the difference between proper Spanish and pidgin Spanglish. One would hope that respected news sources like the Associated Press and The Washington Post would have at least one person on staff who can actually read the world's second-most spoken language.

Yes, and you would think that a newspaper in the City of Tucson with a large Hispanic population, and presumably some Spanish-speaking employees, would have vetted this story for accuracy as well.

But I digress.

Another recurring AP (All Propaganda) media narrative is that insurers are in a panic over "ObamaCare" numbers. Not so much. This was shot down in a pair of reports by the Washington Post's Sarah Kliff. Don’t believe the hype: Health insurers think Obamacare is going to be fine:

Obamacare's troubled rollout hasn't scared insurers out of the marketplace. Instead, speaking to thousands of health-care investors gathered in San Francisco, plan executives describe the Affordable Care Act as, at worst, a fixable mess and, at best, a major growth opportunity.

The executives' commentary was a reminder that the health-care industry doesn't set its watch by the election cycles which dominate Washington. They expected Obamacare to be a bit of a mess in 2014 — but they're in it for the long haul.

"We believe that over time, a lot of these bumps will work themselves out," Joe Swedish, president of Wellpoint, the country’s second-largest health plan, said in an interview with The Washington Post."We have always expected it to have a sort of lumpiness to it, the rollout. It's certainly become more lumpy than one would have predicted [but] over time, this will work out."

“Our view is we’re still in the early innings,” Cigna chief executive David Cordani told a standing-room only crowd of investors at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. “The first couple of years will be choppy, and we’re learning whether it can find its legs.”

Health insurers arguably have the biggest financial stake in the exchanges’ success. They are the ones who are selling products on the new marketplaces, and who would have to bear the costs of covering a sicker-than-expected exchange population.

But even after a troubled launch, and with early enrollment shaping up to be lower and older than expected, plan executives generally cite two reasons they’re not panicking — and not pulling out of the exchanges after year one.

First, many approached 2014 as a test year for the Affordable Care Act and participated in only a handful of exchanges to test the waters. On average, the exchanges currently account for about 2 percent of insurers’ revenues, according to J.P. Morgan managed care analyst Justin Lake. Health plans expected that the first year would be rough, so they preemptively limited their exposure.

“Although they may garner the most headlines, we do not expect the new health benefit marketplaces to be a significant factor to 2014 earnings,” Lake writes. “We think the downside risk of low initial enrollment for large, diversified managed care companies is limited given that this is a relatively small portion of their business.”

And even as the health exchanges grow, they will likely still remain a smaller part of a health plan’s business. The Congressional Budget Office projects that, when fully implemented, the marketplaces will cover 7 percent of the population, or 30 million people.

* * *

“It’s not something that jeopardizes our guidance for this year,” Michael Neidorff, chief executive of managed care company Centene, said of relatively low enrollment in exchange plans. “Right now, we’re satisfied getting a toe in the water, so to speak, getting experienced, and getting recognized for having this capacity.”

* * *

[I]nsurers still view the health-care law as a major growth opportunity, one which allows them to expand their footprint in the individual market.

Wayne DeVeydt, chief financial officer of Wellpoint, the country’s second-largest health insurer, said that they have seen higher enrollment among sicker patients — but that the health plan expected that type of trend in its first year.

“Things aren’t necessarily way out of whack with our expectations,” he says. “It’s not about whether or not you’re getting a sicker book. It’s whether you priced for it.”

In a continuation interview with Wellpoint CEO Joe Swedish, Sarah Kliff reports, ‘Over time, this will work out’: Wellpoint CEO Joe Swedish on Obamacare.

The last GOP conspiracy theory to take down "ObamaCare" in court went down to ignomious defeat this week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Steve Benen reports, Yet another Obamacare lawsuit fails :

[T]here's one lawsuit still pending, which argues that there's one out-of-context phrase in the law that's so problematic, it should derail the entire federal health care system. It gets a little complicated, but the ultimate point of the suit is to say consumers in state exchanges aren't eligible for subsidies, which in turn would make coverage unaffordable for most of the country.

So far, this odd approach hasn't gone especially well for ACA opponents. Brian Beutler reports that a federal court "has looked at this argument, and concluded that it's total nonsense," and though it's just one court, the outcome is "actually pretty embarrassing for the challengers."

In a case like this, courts use a two-step test to determine whether a federal agency is faithfully administering a statute. First, they examine the text of the statute to determine whether there's any ambiguity. If there's no ambiguity, then the government must do what the law clearly states. If the text is ambiguous, though, judges must determine whether the agency's interpretation is plausible.

Obamacare opponents would have won if the judge in question — a Clinton appointee — had vouched for their interpretation of the statue, or had found the text ambiguous, but declared the IRS' reading impermissible.

But neither of those things happened. Instead, the judge didn't just rule that all exchanges qualify for subsidies, but that in full context there's no statutory ambiguity to begin with. The challenge is based on a bogus, opportunistic characterization of the law.

The ruling is online here (pdf).

Even congressional Republicans had high hopes for this lawsuit, but really, they should've known better.

These GOP clowns remind me of the Black Knight in Monty Python and The Holy Grail: they just can't accept the fact that they are defeated.

Black knight defeated

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