Health Care: The FT Gets Spun…

I didn’t know that Rupert Murdoch also bought The Financial Times as well as The Times….

so badly that it might not know east from west.

Obviously someone from the right wing noise machine has gotten through to FT reporters Jeremy Lemer and Ed Crooks, and given them just the right talking points.  For example, when discussing state insurance exchanges, they write:

Where they have been used at state level, their record has been mixed; they have failed in Texas, Florida, North Carolina and California.
I literally don’t know what they are talking about: Schwarzenegger signed California’s legislation to create its exchange just a few weeks before leaving office.  Maybe it’s those high-risk pools that Harold has often criticized: but those are not the same as the insurance exchanges that the ACA will set up in 2014.
Then Lemer and Crooks say that the ACA’s promised cost savings might not materialize, which why “business opposition” has materialized.  And what might that opposition be?  Why, the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Federation of Independent Business, essentially groups that are allied with the Republican Party.  This, of course, is never mentioned by the FT — and neither is the fact that had it not been for such groups, ACA implementation would have occurred earlier, and states would not have to rely on the high-risk pools that they earlier criticize.
Meanwhile,
Pat Felder, who runs a car parts distributor in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, says her employee insurance premiums went up by 17 per cent last year, and she has been warned to expect a 20 per cent-plus rise this year. She says the insurance companies blame the rise on the new legislation.
(emphasis added).  Well, yes, they would, wouldn’t they?  Earlier, Lemer and Crooks noted that for years, rates have been increasing at more than 20%.  So why blame this latest one on the ACA?
And finally, we get the pure GOP talking points:
Critics are offering alternative proposals. Republicans in Congress want to curb medical litigation, which encourages unnecessary tests and procedures to avoid lawsuits. Many businesses favour abolishing regulations that prevent health insurance being sold across state lines, limiting choice.
Except that, you know, neither of these things will do anything significant to reduce costs, and just give more power to insurers.  Lemer and Crooks never mention this.
Funny, I thought Rupert Murdoch had bought The Times, not the FT….

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

11 thoughts on “Health Care: The FT Gets Spun…”

  1. I guess I didn’t expect any better from a periodical called “Financial Times.”

    But yeah, disgraceful. Any reporter who doesn’t have the sense or the integrity to look into both sides of an issue should find some other line of work, like bagging groceries.

  2. Crooks is sort of remarkable for being monumentally dumb. He regularly writes very dumb things, so much so that I don’t bother reading anything by him. He’d fit right in at the Washington Post, which is maybe what he has in mind.

  3. Perhaps the reference to failure in California, TX, FL, and NC refers to a HIPC (Health Insurance Purchasing Cooperative — pool) created by the CA in the early 1990’s. This HIPC, established to support purchase of health insurance atgroup rates for employees and owners of small businesses, had modest success and evenutally was spun off into a private non-profit entity. The number of businesses and insured persons participating grew initially but eventually participation slowly declined, and the ability of the pool to maintain a size that allowed significant price reductions relative to the non-HIPC small business/individual insurance market dissipated. Keep in mind that participation in the HIPC was voluntary. I don’t know what happened in TX, FL,or NC. In any event, the circumstances facing participants likely to use the exchanges contemplated under the ACA likely will be quite different.

  4. Isn’t the more pertinent point that ACA’s exchanges most resemble the ones in Massachusetts? You know, the exchange that has (to date) succeeded?

  5. Hi Jonathan,

    Thank you for taking the time to read our piece on the health care
    reform act and the broader issue of rising health care costs and its
    impact on businesses in America.

    (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/85a4eb62-3e03-11e0-99ac-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1EejepLCu)

    On the issue of health care exchanges, you seem to have misunderstood
    our reference to their historical track record.

    Governor Schwarzenegger did indeed take steps to implement an exchange
    in California before he left office.

    But we were referring to previous attempts to set up a health exchange
    in the state which began in 1993 and fell apart in 2006.

    There are plenty of insightful reports on the failure of the
    California exchange and the challenges involved in setting up new
    exchanges as per the requirements of the PPACA.

    For your convenience, here are some links.

    http://www.chcf.org/publications/2009/07/building-a-national-insurance-exchange-lessons-from-california

    http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411875_health_insurance_marketplaces.pdf

    http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Publications/Fund-Reports/2010/Sep/Health-Insurance-Exchanges-and-the-Affordable-Care-Act.aspx

    http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Publications/Fund-Reports/2010/Jul/Health-Insurance-Exchanges-and-the-Affordable-Care-Act.aspx

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/opinion/06mcgarr.html

    The thrust of your post, however, is that we have been taken in by the
    right wing groups critical of the health care reform legislation. If
    you read the piece again we feel there is little to support your
    contention.

    Our article attempts to explain, not to endorse, the views of the
    business community. And regardless of their political affiliations,
    organizations like the NAM represent the views of a substantial chunk
    of American businesses, and surely therefore deserve a hearing.

    The piece also clearly makes the point that health care costs have
    been rising dramatically for decades, and that the changes enacted by
    the PPACA have added only modestly to that rate of increase.

    As for the “pure GOP talking points” that you mention, they are
    immediately followed by two quotes suggesting that those ideas will
    not make enough of a difference to the underlying problem.

    All of that said, we are always looking for ideas to help
    improve our coverage and we welcome comments and suggestions. If there
    are important aspects of the issue you think we have missed, please do
    let us know.

    Best wishes,

    Jeremy Lemer and Ed Crooks

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