A Tale of Two Stories

Richard N. Weltz
The New York Times once again proves itself to be a propaganda organ today, in its coverage of ObamaCare. Compare and contrast the treatment of the same story in its principal national competitor. As reported in this morning's (September 22) Wall Street Journal:

Rate Increases Denied to Some Private Medicare Plans

WASHINGTON-The Obama administration said Tuesday it denied rate increases and benefit cuts sought by some privately run Medicare plans.

The move is a sign of the toughening regulatory climate for health insurers that could prompt some of them to leave the Medicare market in coming years.

The majority of people 65 and over get their Medicare benefits directly from the government. But some 11 million people are in Medicare Advantage, where a private insurer provides coverage. Medicare Advantage plans may supply additional benefits, such as gym club memberships, while giving people a narrower choice of doctors.

In June, federal officials received 2,100 bids from private insurers hoping to offer Medicare Advantage plans next year. Officials said Tuesday they denied rate increases and benefit cuts in 298 cases. As a result, they said, Medicare Advantage premiums will be 1% lower on average in 2011.

As people familiar with the Medicare program know, Medicare Advantage subscribers receive some additional benefits, such as gym membership,  beyond those provided by ordinary Medicare. In return, the insurance companies who administer the Medicare Advantage plans are reimbursed at  somewhat higher rates than are paid through traditional Medicare; and the subscribers have a narrower choice of doctors and hospitals.

The WSJ report explains that several of the participating insurance companies requested -- and were denied by HHS -- small increases in their payment rates and permission to make slight cutbacks in services provided.  It goes on to explain that this denial is forcing some insurers to drop the business for 2011, and probably even more will for 2012 -- thus forcing some participants to change insurers and doctors, whether they want to or not.

Now, over at the New York Times, the same facts were reported with quite a different slant:

Medicare Advantage Premiums to Fall in 2011*

By ROBERT PEAR
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration announced Tuesday that average premiums paid by individuals for private Medicare Advantage plans, which insure about one-fourth of all beneficiaries, would decline slightly next year, even as insurers provide additional benefits required by the new health care law.

*Note: The headline in this morning's printed edition reads: "Premiums Set to Drop For Some Medicare Plans."

The Times goes on to explain that, essentially, Secretary Sebelius and her team demanded expanded services and frozen 2010 rates, with the result that, Ultimately, seven Medicare plans offered by three insurance companies decided not to change their bids, and "we denied those bids." Other insurers caved in to the blackmail, which HHS described as simply more forceful "negotiations," and they will have to swallow the extra costs involved.

It's not surprising, but it is illustrative of today's journalistic practice. To the editors of the comparatively objective Wall Street Journal, the real news is that ObamaCare policies are already infringing on the options available to seniors using Medicare -- and give further evidence that the promise of not having to change a doctor or a plan one likes is an outright lie.

The Times, in contrast, places all the emphasis on the minuscule "savings" that their bullying of the insurers may provide for Medicare Advantage subscribers -- a bald-faced attempt to make their cherished ObamaCare look good.
The New York Times once again proves itself to be a propaganda organ today, in its coverage of ObamaCare. Compare and contrast the treatment of the same story in its principal national competitor. As reported in this morning's (September 22) Wall Street Journal:

Rate Increases Denied to Some Private Medicare Plans

WASHINGTON-The Obama administration said Tuesday it denied rate increases and benefit cuts sought by some privately run Medicare plans.

The move is a sign of the toughening regulatory climate for health insurers that could prompt some of them to leave the Medicare market in coming years.

The majority of people 65 and over get their Medicare benefits directly from the government. But some 11 million people are in Medicare Advantage, where a private insurer provides coverage. Medicare Advantage plans may supply additional benefits, such as gym club memberships, while giving people a narrower choice of doctors.

In June, federal officials received 2,100 bids from private insurers hoping to offer Medicare Advantage plans next year. Officials said Tuesday they denied rate increases and benefit cuts in 298 cases. As a result, they said, Medicare Advantage premiums will be 1% lower on average in 2011.

As people familiar with the Medicare program know, Medicare Advantage subscribers receive some additional benefits, such as gym membership,  beyond those provided by ordinary Medicare. In return, the insurance companies who administer the Medicare Advantage plans are reimbursed at  somewhat higher rates than are paid through traditional Medicare; and the subscribers have a narrower choice of doctors and hospitals.

The WSJ report explains that several of the participating insurance companies requested -- and were denied by HHS -- small increases in their payment rates and permission to make slight cutbacks in services provided.  It goes on to explain that this denial is forcing some insurers to drop the business for 2011, and probably even more will for 2012 -- thus forcing some participants to change insurers and doctors, whether they want to or not.

Now, over at the New York Times, the same facts were reported with quite a different slant:

Medicare Advantage Premiums to Fall in 2011*

By ROBERT PEAR
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration announced Tuesday that average premiums paid by individuals for private Medicare Advantage plans, which insure about one-fourth of all beneficiaries, would decline slightly next year, even as insurers provide additional benefits required by the new health care law.

*Note: The headline in this morning's printed edition reads: "Premiums Set to Drop For Some Medicare Plans."

The Times goes on to explain that, essentially, Secretary Sebelius and her team demanded expanded services and frozen 2010 rates, with the result that, Ultimately, seven Medicare plans offered by three insurance companies decided not to change their bids, and "we denied those bids." Other insurers caved in to the blackmail, which HHS described as simply more forceful "negotiations," and they will have to swallow the extra costs involved.

It's not surprising, but it is illustrative of today's journalistic practice. To the editors of the comparatively objective Wall Street Journal, the real news is that ObamaCare policies are already infringing on the options available to seniors using Medicare -- and give further evidence that the promise of not having to change a doctor or a plan one likes is an outright lie.

The Times, in contrast, places all the emphasis on the minuscule "savings" that their bullying of the insurers may provide for Medicare Advantage subscribers -- a bald-faced attempt to make their cherished ObamaCare look good.