NPR Hypes Threat to Federal Programs If Court Rules Against ObamaCare

On Wednesday's Morning Edition, NPR's pro-ObamaCare shill Julie Rovner predictably lined up backers of the contested law. Rover again cited the Kaiser Family Foundation and failed to mention their liberal leanings. She also turned to a former Clinton administration official, without identifying her as such, and played five total clips from liberals, versus only two from a conservative.

The correspondent hyped the "the potential impact on the relationship between the federal government and the states" if the Supreme Court struck down the controversial legislation, and that "virtually any program in which the federal government gives money to the states with conditions attached" could be at risk.

Host Renee Montagne previewed Rovner's advocacy for the Affordable Care Act in her introduction: "The final argument the Supreme Court will hear about the health care law later today could actually have the most far-reaching consequences. At issue is whether, by expanding the Medicaid program for the poor, does the law unfairly force states to participate? As NPR's Julie Rovner reports, if the Supreme Court finds that the federal government is coercing the states, that decision could reach far beyond health care."

The NPR journalist first noted in her report that "Medicaid is already one of the nation's largest providers of health care services," and immediately played her first soundbite from Diane Rowland, whom she identified as a "Medicaid expert with the Kaiser Family Foundation." However, as in her past reporting, Rovner failed to point out her employee's joint partnership with the group and its left-leaning ideology.After playing a second clip from Rowland, the correspondent outlined that ObamaCare "will add about 17 million new people- mostly adults without children- to Medicaid's 60 million or so enrollees by the year 2016. Currently, states share the cost of Medicaid with the federal government....But the federal government recognized that states are strapped for cash these days. So most of the new cost- 90 percent eventually- is being paid by the federal government."

Rovner then highlighted former Solicitor General Paul Clement's contention against this arrangement. She included two clips from the former Bush administration official, but she thought it fit to counter his argument in between the first and the second:

ROVNER: ...[T]hat's not stopping states from claiming that this expansion amounts to unconstitutional arm-twisting. That's because if they don't follow through with the new changes, they have to pull out of Medicaid altogether. Former Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement is representing the 26 states that are suing over the Medicaid provision to the health law.

PAUL CLEMENT, FORMER SOLICITOR GENERAL: What they've said is, if you don't make these new changes, we're going to take away all of your money, including all of the money that you've kind of gotten used to; all of the money that you used for different groups of people; and that does seem a little more coercive.

ROVNER: Medicaid is, in fact, a voluntary program. States don't have to participate. But they all do, and Clement says so much money is at stake- more than $400 billion in 2010- that dropping out is simply unrealistic.

CLEMENT: So how any state at this point could say- you know, we're just going to turn down Medicaid funding from the federal government. I don't think any set of citizens would allow that to happen, because it's all this money that's being taken from the state taxpayers that would then be going to every state in the union but that state. It just wouldn't work.

As if that wasn't enough, the correspondent finished her report with two clips from "law professor and Medicaid expert at the George Washington University," Sara Rosenbaum and two more from Elizabeth Wydra of the Constitutional Accountability Center. While Rovner identified Wydra's organization as a "liberal think tank," she omitted that Rosenbaum previously worked for the Clinton administration. Her own George Washington University profile states that "between 1993 and 1994, [Rosenbaum] worked for President Clinton, directing the legislative drafting of the Health Security Act." Of course, the Health Security Act was the health care bill proposed by former President Clinton, and lobbied for by Mrs. Hillary Clinton, the current Secretary of State:

ROVNER: But is this latest expansion of Medicaid really coercive? Sara Rosenbaum, a law professor and Medicaid expert at the George Washington University, says it's hardly different from many of the expansions that have come before.

SARA ROSENBAUM: States already cover a lot of adults. They cover parents; they cover adults with disabilities; they cover adults who are pregnant. And so, all this expansion does is, really, to fill in the remaining gaps, and it's something that many states have wanted to do over the years.

ROVNER: But what really has people are watching the Medicaid arguments actually has nothing to do with Medicaid. It's the potential impact on the relationship between the federal government and the states. This is one of the few times the Court has taken up what's known as the Spending Clause of the Constitution, says Elizabeth Wydra. She's with the Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal think tank.

ELIZABETH WYDRA, CONSTITUTIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY CENTER: It's long been established by the Supreme Court that Congress can attach conditions to federal funds that it gives the states. States can follow the requirements that the federal government sets on those funds, or they can opt out of receiving the funds altogether.

ROVNER: But while earlier cases have suggested that there could be limits to those conditions, the Court has never said what those limits are. And it's not just Medicaid at stake, she says.

WYDRA: That places in jeopardy, in addition to the entire Medicaid program, a host of other very beneficial federal grant programs in the education context- child welfare.

ROVNER: And many other programs- in fact, virtually any program in which the federal government gives money to the states with conditions attached. So far, no lower court has agreed that the Medicaid expansion coerces the states. But no one expected the Supreme Court to hear this part of the challenge against the health law either.

Earlier in March, the NPR journalist trumpeted a slanted Kaiser Family Foundation poll as she claimed that the U.S. Senate rejection of an amendment protecting religious liberty was "closer than the 63 percent majority that supports the contraceptive coverage requirement." By playing the two clips from Clement, Rovner was at least slightly more balanced in her Wednesday report than back on the February 10, 2012 edition of Morning Edition, when her sole sources then were a general counsel for the federal government's own EEOC, and a lawyer for the far-left ACLU, who also worked for the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan was a news analyst at Media Research Center