Obamacare is in the tiny print, omissions and faq's
Like many in the media, especially the East and West coast based, the New York Times adores President Barack Obama (D) as a president who can do no wrong. So they received a lot of criticism last week after editorially dismissing his repeated assurance "If you like your health care plan/doctor, you can keep your health care plan/doctor. Period." with a casual "Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that."
Misspoke! A college professor president misspoke!
Those who believed the misspoken president and are now stuck with higher cost, fewer benefits insurance complained. Loudly. The media tempest forced a clarification the next day from their public editor.
Editorial is Under Fire For Saying President Clearly Misspoke on Health Care
On Monday, I asked the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, about the wording.
"We have a high threshold for whether someone lied," he told me. The phrase that The Times used "means that he said something that wasn't true." Saying the president lied would have meant something different, Mr. Rosenthal said -- that he knew it was false and intended to express the falsehood. "We don't know that," he said.
But "misspoke" does suggest a one-time slip of the tongue.
Wouldn't it have been better, I asked Mr. Rosenthal, if the editorial had said that Mr. Obama's statements "clearly weren't true," or that the president "was clearly wrong" when he repeatedly made those statements?
He responded that the editorial's language was fine, but he also allowed, "We could have done that."
Talk of Penalty Is Missing in Ads for Health Care
The state and federal health insurance exchanges are using all manner of humor and happy talk to sell the Affordable Care Act's products. But the one part of the new system that they are not quick to trumpet is the financial penalty that Americans will face if they fail to buy insurance.
On state exchange websites, mention of the penalty is typically tucked away under "frequently asked questions," if it appears at all. Television and print ads usually skip the issue, and operators of exchange telephone banks are instructed to discuss it only if asked. The federal website, now infamous for its glitches, mentions the penalty but also calls it a fee, or an Individual Shared Responsibility Payment.
The euphemisms and avoidance of any discussion of the penalty are no accident, both supporters and critics of the law say. While the mandate for all Americans to buy health insurance -- with a penalty if they do not -- was the linchpin of the Supreme Court decision upholding the law, and is considered the key to its success, poll after poll has found that it is also the least popular part of the program.
State exchange operators say that they are not trying to hide the penalty, but that their market research has taught them that, at least in the initial phase, consumers will be more receptive to soothing messages and appeals to their sense of collective responsibility than to threats of punishment.
If an appliance manufacturer or a bank buried their big ifs about the product in the frequently asked questions section or had extra, hidden fees or marketed so "consumers will be more receptive to soothing messages and appeals to their sense of collective responsibility than to threats of additional fees" the wrath of liberals, consumer protection organizations and ultimately the many agencies of government would come roaring down on the hapless company.
But this is Obama, this is a liberal pet cause so all of this will be excused as a form of misspoke about an otherwise visionary product.
Meanwhile vulnerable consumers, compelled to purchased this unwanted, undesirable product, wonder what else they haven't been told about Obamacare, what other glitches and kinks await.
In the meantime, just don't get sick.