The PJ Tatler

Missing the Point at the Post

Journalists, if you’ll pardon my French, are supposed to be in the business of connecting various dots to tell a story people would probably have otherwise missed. But what do you do when the reporter (again, forgive the poor language) has all the dots lined right in front of him, but fails to connect them? Case in point, the Washington Post‘s N.C. Aizenman story on the latest failed ObamaCare program.

We’ll start with the lede:

Tens of thousands of Americans who cannot get health insurance because of preexisting medical problems will be blocked from a program designed to help them because funding is running low.

Got that? There was the bridge program in ObamaCare to help folks with pre-existing conditions pay for new insurance, before all of ObamaCare begins kicking in next year. But it’s almost out of money, with a year left to go.

But there’s more:

But they stressed that coverage for about 100,000 people who are now enrolled in the high-risk pools will not be affected.

Initial fears that as many as 375,000 sick people would swamp the pools and bankrupt them by 2012 did not pan out. This is largely because, even though the pools must charge premiums comparable to those for healthy people, the plans sold through them are often expensive.

This bit is trickier, since there’s a lot of information packed into just three sentences, but here’s what I got out of them. Experts (I’ll put another quarter in the Curse Jar) expected almost 400,000 people to sign up, but only 100,000 actually did. The program only had to serve one-third as many people as was thought, but it’s still running out of money because subsidies failed to bring down costs far enough to make the plans affordable.

Or as Gary Cohen, director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said:

“What we’ve learned through the course of this program is that this is really not a sensible way for the health-care system to be run.”

Now, that’s about as succinct and as complete an indictment of ObamaCare as I’ve ever read. Costs rise, subsidies don’t help, and people aren’t getting the coverage they were promised.

So how does Aizenman connect all those dots? He doesn’t. He finishes his report with a smooth segue into a sob story about the woman with breast cancer who might — just might! — qualify for the program at the very last second. ObamaCare saves the day again!

Late in 2010, however, the insurer that Joyce was using pulled out of Virginia. She was healthy at the time. But when she applied to other companies, she was told that because she had been diagnosed with— and successfully treated for — an earlier breast cancer, she was ineligible for coverage.

Joyce said she was unaware of the high-risk pools at the time and remained ignorant of the option even as she was diagnosed with her current cancer. As the disease has progressed, the cost of her treatment has skyrocketed. The latest expense, a 10-week course of chemotherapy that she expects to total about $30,000, as well as additional tests that could top $8,000, has forced her to dip into her retirement savings.

It is only in the past several weeks that Joyce learned of the high-risk pool, and she was on track to finalize her application Sunday.

On Friday, she scrambled to get it in by the unexpected new deadline. She said the computer system appeared to accept her entries, but she will be on tenterhooks until she finds out for sure.

The original version of the story, and I really wished I’d screencapped it, said that Joyce would be on “tender hooks” until she finds out. See? ObamaCare even takes the pain out of being stretched out like canvas over a picture frame.

But there you have it. The dots are all there, just itching to be connected by a smart reporter. Instead, we get the false “balance” that this obviously failed-before-it-began program is still going to somehow improve things, that it will help people just like you and me and Joyce. That’s not balance, however. It’s just a big, wet blanket covering up yet another failed Obama policy.