'Real people' don't make headlines
Thursday, Sept. 23 was an important day. But only some in the media treated it that way.
The Obama health law remains controversial, and unpopular in many quarters, which is no surprise. It's big and complicated and people are understandably worried about costs and coverage. Some of the benefits are front-loaded while the more difficult parts, including the individual mandate to buy insurance, are back-loaded. The Republicans have largely succeeded in painting it as big government run amok.
I can't shake the feeling that journalists are mainly interested in the political controversy. As in, how many Democrats are distancing themselves from Obamacare in the midterms, and how many Republicans are running ads attacking it.
But now some important benefits have kicked in, benefits that affect real families.
--Children can no longer be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions. (Anyone wanna repeal that?)
--Insured people can no longer be dumped by insurance bureacrats who discover technical mistakes on applications.
--Lifetime caps on benefits are now outlawed.
--Adult kids can be carried on their parents' policies until they turn 26.
This is not an argument for Obamacare. But the media are not always at their best when it comes to the impact of government on real people. Unless some outrageous example of corporate heartlessness is involved, there's no conflict to chronicle.
The New York Times did a terrific job with a piece that began:
"Sometimes lost in the partisan clamor about the new health care law is the profound relief it is expected to bring to hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been stricken first by disease and then by a Darwinian insurance system."
Reporter Kevin Sack did three sidebars, on three types of patients who have been affected, in California, Kansas and Virginia.
Katie Couric led the "CBS Evening News" with the health care changes. Diane Sawyer had it second on "World News." But I didn't see it being debated on the nighttime cable shows.
The Washington Post has a short summary of the law's changes on Page 2. I didn't see anyone put it on the front page.
I predict the new benefits will be a one-day story, quickly subsumed by the midterms, the Woodward book, the Facebook movie and Lindsay Lohan's latest drug violation.
The jury is very much out on health care reform. But some important evidence has now been admitted, and we ought to stay on the case.
| September 24, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Latest stories, Top story | Tags: Obama, Obamacare, health care, health reform, media, repeal
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