The last month has been a bumpy ride for the ACA. It could have gone better.
In 2010 in the lead up to the ACA passing there were probably 50-60 health care diaries every day. We were anything but united on heath care reform. We were highly skeptical that private insurers were going to "help" implement the ACA. We mourned the loss of the Public Option. Some said we had to pass "something". We still posted recipes in troll diaries back then (maybe we should publish a kos cookbook from those days, but I digress). The fact is that we got the ACA, 2,700 pages that makes 90 changes to health care delivery in the United States. We always knew there would be detractors to this law.
For 250 million people, the changes that take effect in 2014 will be close to seamless. For 63-70 million people, the changes could be profound. About 36 million are expected to get insurance for the first time in years. About 13-15 million will still remain uninsured and experience the least changes from the ACA. Finally, that last 15 million (maybe a few more) in the individual insurance policy market would finally get the discounts of group insurance - a change lost on the media. The individual market now has policy standards. Junk insurance is phasing out of our marketplace and the main stream news media is bitchin' about this?
We're finally here. It's not a smooth transition. The plan was for open enrollment to be 6 months because we knew it would be a bumpy roll out. Yes, we knew that it was illogical to open the small business market place in November when businesses make their insurance decisions for the next year in August - that had a lot to do with deferring the business penalties. We knew a lot of people would delay their decision until the end of December. We knew a lot of policies would not measure up to ACA standards and would cease to exist. We knew that single men would pay toward maternity care. We knew pre-existing condition denials would be history. We knew that there would be some who would pay more and some would pay less. We knew about all these things and wrote about them. The main stream media did not. Reporters don't pay attention to the Cheeto squad. Had they paid attention they would have known all these things plus the bottom line that the ACA is puts our health care system in a better place than it was in 2010.
It's vexing to have to hear and read about the media's current coverage of the ACA. They're acting like this is news. It isn't. The current focus on those who will be forced to make changes in their insurance is all about sensationalism and nothing about informing people about what the ACA means for them. It's about one woman with a lousy deal in Florida complaining about having to buy a policy that might save her life or about another woman who will have to change one set of doctors or another in California who lives in an area where there are more doctors than a typical community has. They aren't talking to delighted people who will finally get insurance for the first time in years. They are trolling for trolls and no surprise, the media has found a couple.
Nope, the media has to make hey over 5% of the U.S. population that amounts to about fifteen million people, which is enough people to fill 200 NFL sized stadiums. That's a lot of people, but it's still only 5% of our population. So, the media is upset about the 15 million in the individual insurance market who now have real choices to make to get real insurance that will save both their lives and their livelihoods. Willie Geist said he was offended that 15 million people were being discounted, but I've never heard him say boo about the 15 million who will remain uninsured after the ACA is fully implemented. He's not alone. Most newsers don't give a hoot about 15 million people who will remain uninsured. We have a term for that. It's called cherry picking.
The fact that the media cares about one set of 15 million people, but can ignore another 15 million people gets no press. That would require a reporter somewhere to, um, bite the hand that feeds them. The media doesn't mind pointing out the hypocrisy of the politicians they cover, but they will not look at their own hypocrisy. On Now with Alex Wagner today, some pundit said the White House "lost" the media on the ACA. Bunk, the White House never had the media in the first place.
Lost on the media is one simple fact.
With the ACA in effect, we're far better off in health care than we were in 2010 without the ACA.
5:07 PM PT: I just got back from dinner. Thanks for the rescue. I'll be around tonight.