The New York Times made sure to “undercut” any advantage the Republican candidate might earn from news of the massive premium increases on the way to ObamaCare patients in its front-page story “Growing Costs Of Health Law Pose a Late Test” by Patrick Healy and Abby Goodnough. The text box: “At attack that Trump made, and soon went on to undercut.”
Meanwhile, the WikiLeaks revelation that President Obama knew about Hillary Clinton’s private email server despite his denials was buried on page A22.
Healy and Goodnough wrote:
Donald J. Trump, desperate for a winning political issue in the final two weeks of the presidential race, fiercely attacked Hillary Clinton on Tuesday over sharp premium increases that will hit some Americans covered under the Affordable Care Act.
“The rates are going through the sky,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Sanford, Fla., referring to double-digit increases in battleground states like North Carolina and Iowa.
“Repealing Obamacare and stopping Hillary’s health care takeover is one of the single most important reasons that we must win on Nov. 8.”
But Mr. Trump almost instantly undercut his new offensive with his tendency to muddy his central message. He appeared uncertain at one point about how the health care law worked for his own employees, and then spent only four minutes on the rate increases during a 45-minute speech at the rally.
Mr. Trump stumbled out of the gate on Tuesday as he sought to bash the health law. Speaking to scores of his own workers at his Miami golf course, he said that “all of my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare” -- suggesting that his company doesn’t provide health insurance or else misunderstanding the program. Moments later, he said of his employees, “They’re not worried about their health care because we take great care of people.”
Reed Abelson and Margot Sanger-Katz’s ObamaCare explainer, “A Quick Guide to Rising Rates for Many Affordable Care Insurance Plans,” took a suspiciously cheery tone about the crisis: There’s nothing to worry about, they assured readers repeatedly, as long as you’re not buying your own insurance or if you are insured through work. As if higher health costs have no effect on the hiring or firing practices of businesses, and that the seven million people directly affected (buying insurance on their own without subsidies) are just a teeny-weeny problem.
After admitting in a subhead that “Obamacare rates are going way up,” they immediately tried to downplay and ease the sticker shock as Election Day looms.
This is not a huge surprise. There have been signs for months that insurance rates for people who buy individual policies would rise more next year than they have in previous years. There are a number of reasons, including the fact that some of the programs meant to keep rates lower are ending at the end of this year.
Under the subhead “These increases really matter only for those who buy their own insurance,” they write soothingly:
Most people are unaffected by the rate increases because they get their insurance through an employer or are covered through government programs like Medicare, Medicaid or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Only a small fraction of Americans who have insurance buy individual policies. There are about 10 million people in the Obamacare markets and around an additional seven million who buy health plans outside the marketplace, according to Obama administration estimates. The published rate increases apply only to people who shop in the markets, but premiums are expected to go up sharply for the other plans as well.
The sedation of the readership continues: “If you get insurance through work, you don’t have to worry too much about this news.” (In fact, you don’t even have to read this article at all, really!)
But while you may feel as if you’re paying more for your medical care, premiums for employer-based insurance have been increasing at historically low rates. Premiums for the average single person in the employer market are the same this year as they were in 2015, according to a large survey of employers from the Kaiser Family Foundation; prices for most family plans are rising by 3 percent.
They bury and downplay the bad news, magically hand-waving away the problem of increasing deductibles under ObamaCare.
What has probably changed is the size of your deductible, which has been going up steadily. Employers have been shifting costs to their workers, a trend that began long before Obamacare went into effect.
Meanwhile, an intriguing angle on the Hillary Clinton email scandal featuring President Obama was buried on A22. Steve Eder wrote a competent story that nonetheless failed to let President Obama off the hook for his own statements about his Secretary of State’s email server: “‘We Need to Clean This Up,” Clinton Aide Frets in Newly Public Email.”
In a March 2015 interview, President Obama said that he had learned about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state “the same time everybody else learned it, through news reports.”
But that assertion concerned aides of Mrs. Clinton, who knew that the president himself had received emails from the private address, according to a hacked email made public on Tuesday by WikiLeaks.
“We need to clean this up -- he has emails from her -- they do not say state.gov,” Cheryl D. Mills, a top aide, wrote to John D. Podesta, another senior adviser, on March 7, 2015.
Two days later, Mr. Obama’s spokesman, Josh Earnest, tried to clarify the president’s remarks, saying that he had, in fact, exchanged emails with Mrs. Clinton through her private account. But Mr. Earnest suggested that the president had no idea the emails could be a problem because he had relied on Mrs. Clinton to make sure that using a private account did not break any laws.
Andrew McCarthy at National Review was much tougher on the president: “....Obama obviously knew about his e-mails with Clinton through her private account -- e-mails on which he concealed his identity by using an alias. Furthermore, Obama and Clinton’s top advisers were well aware of the Obama–Clinton e-mails, and were considering how to conceal them on March 4, in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi Committee’s subpoena. Yet, three days later, Obama falsely claimed he had not known about Clinton’s private e-mail usage until hearing about it in news reports. This clearly startled the Clinton team, leading Mills to tell Podesta: ‘We need to clean this up.’”