The ACA [Obamacare] is alive and growing—and Year 2 of enrollment is going quite well, but you’d never know that if you get your news from the usual suspects: Mainstream media outlets have, essentially, put this story on blackout.
In October 2013, when the Affordable Care Act starting taking enrollments, everyone jumped all over the faulty healthcare.gov website and predicted disaster for the program. The reports of website screw-ups were right. But the predictions of catastrophic failure of the program were all wrong. And, by the end of the first open enrollment period, more than 7 million people had signed up, reducing the nation’s uninsured rate significantly.
According to Politico:
A survey by the Commonwealth Fund found that 9.5 million fewer adults are uninsured now than at the beginning of the [first year ] Obamacare enrollment season. The Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey found a similar drop, with 8 million adults gaining coverage. And Gallup-Healthways survey reported that the uninsured rate has fallen to 13.4 percent of adults, the lowest level since it began tracking health coverage in 2008.
This year, open enrollment began on November 15, and, in contrast to Year 1, it’s going smoothly. Nearly 30 days into Year two, 1.3 million have signed up–of which about half are new enrollees. [Check out ACAsignups.com for in-depth, independent reporting and daily updates.] No major problems, nothing for ACA opponents to crow and gloat about. So, no news reports, even though anniversaries and one-year look-backs are standard news hooks, and even though the contrast with Year 1 is a legitimate story.
This year, there’s no disaster, no right-wing talking points—just success. Nobody is feeding anti-Obamacare press releases to the media, nobody’s trumping up failure stories to run on Fox News. So, the mainstream media is yawning. Apparently, the success of a program pushed by President Obama—and beneficial to millions of Americans—is not a news story.
The absence of reporting on this year’s ACA enrollments is indicative of a couple of things, I think. First, it demonstrates how much influence the Republican propaganda machine has had on mainstream news: With no major anti-ACA propaganda push this year, there’s simply no news. Hmmm.
Second—and this is the positive part of the story—the lack of reporting on the successful second-year rollout may simply indicate that Obamacare is quickly becoming a fact of life in this country—accepted by millions of people, viewed as a beneficial government program, and becoming more popular as people understand how it works and what it can do for them and their families. I still contend, though, that this phenomenon is, in itself, a news story that merits attention,
I can see why the media has lost interest—it doesn’t bleed, and it’s working. Ho hum, I guess.
The only ACA storyline that continues to be of interest to the media is the frivolous Supreme Court case—spitefully filed by the Republican Party—that pounces on a drafting error in the law, regarding federal subsidies for ACA enrollees. Unfortunately, the media is not reporting the case as the mean-spirited, who-cares-if-millions-of-people-suffer, purely political, anti-Obama maneuver that it is. It will be news because it’s nasty and confrontational, and because the right-wing will make it easy to report by supplying talking points that can be read verbatim.
It’s a sad and shameful state of affairs.