Good Obamacare News Is No News to Conservatives

Jonathan CohnI may have to subscribe to New Republic just because of Jonathan Cohn. His coverage of Obamacare has been great from the very beginning. If you are going to get your news about the law from one place, he’s the source to go with. He’s insightful of course, but more important, he’s accurate. And that’s something we don’t get much when it comes to coverage of Obamacare.

Yesterday, he wrote, Gallup: Uninsured Rate Is Lowest We’ve Ever Recorded. Of course, Gallup has only been polling about this since early 2008. But that was when the economy was doing pretty well. That was when the unemployment rate was right around 5.0 percent. So that’s when we were somewhere close to full employment. Yet at that time, our supposedly great employer-based health insurance system still left almost 15% of our citizens without coverage.

This number climbed over the following five and half years. I assume this is largely because even as new jobs were created in place of old jobs, they were mostly worse jobs without health benefits. Cohn cautioned us that the numbers are noisy. But the trend is unmistakable. The uninsured rate rose steadily until Obamacare was fully in effect and then the numbers plummeted to a full percentage point below the lowest point they’ve ever been:

Gallup Poll: Uninsured Adults

It is a mark of Cohn’s seriousness that he noted that being insured is not the purpose of the new healthcare law. The purpose is to allow people to more easily get healthcare and to avoid medical bankruptcy. So the uninsured rate coming down is a good sign but it doesn’t mean anything on its own. But here’s the thing: Republicans have long been fans of coverage alone. That’s why they’ve always pushed high deductible “catastrophic” plans. And that’s not even to mention some of their other favorite policies, like purchasing insurance across state lines that would set up a system where most people got insurance in name only. So they ought to thrilled that the uninsured rate is going down. Right? Right?

Today, Cohn wrote, See How Right-Wing Media “Covered” Obamacare’s Big News Day. Not only is the uninsured rate down, but a study based upon the Massachusetts’ plan that Obamacare is based on shows that the increased access to healthcare is, in fact, saving lives. Great news! The reaction:

The news got lots of attention from the mainstream media and from health-care policy analysts. But on the right? Crickets…

The only Obamacare news that readers of [the Weekly Standard and the National Review] have gotten in the last 24 hours is about public opinion polls, which suggest that the health care law remains unpopular as ever, and reports that Oregon officials are facing a federal investigation into whether the state’s botched website was a result of corruption rather than incompetence. These are perfectly newsworthy stories and, yes, they reflect poorly on the health-care law. But are stories about familiar public perceptions and one state’s foibles really more important than signs that many more people are getting health insurance—and that, as a result, thousands of lives are probably being saved?

This is the very core of why conservatives are generally so ill-informed about what’s going on in the world. Major stories are simply ignored. And no, this is not the same as it is on the left:

This is not how it’s supposed to be done, even for opinion journalists. Those of us who support the law are not perfect, but I’d like to think we grappled with the bad news when it happened—whether it was website problems or plan cancellations. Last year, when a similar study about the effects of health-care reform weakened the case for making insurance more available, liberals spent lots of time writing about it.

And that’s why Cohn, and liberal writers in a general sense, are worth reading. They aren’t going to hide information from you. It’s good news for Obamacare and thus good news for the nation. But because the Republicans are not in power, they see good news for America as bad news. And they don’t report bad news to the true believers who read them.


I wonder about this behavior on the part of conservatives. With Obamacare, they can kind of get away with it because Obamacare will triumph slowly. But the same thing happened during the 2012 presidential election where much of the conservative movement was truly shocked that Obama won re-election. The news sources must have known that a fall was coming. And after the conservative base was so badly informed, it amazes me that they didn’t turn on those news sources. But I guess if Dean Chambers is still “unskewing” reality, there must be something deeply delusional about conservatives.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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