Not that any of you will be surprised, but Lee Newspapers has given us another example of world class reporting, this time on the Affordable Care Act.
Lee featured an article this weekend on the impacts of junk plan cancellations that don’t meet the consumer protection standards of the Affordable Care Act. Lee Newspapers state bureau reporter Mike Dennison wrote a 43 paragraph article in which a small group of people express outrage about the Affordable Care Act. Thirty-nine of the 43 paragraphs are a chronicle of woes from people who have their insurance plans cancelled, in which they explain (and speculate) about how they may have to spend more money. To be sure, buried at the very end of the story is a lone example of one person who will be better off with a new plan.
Problem is, a separate report in the very same paper explains that the change actually doesn’t impact most insurance plans. That story, entitled “Probably not that many Montanans with canceled policies to pay more,” is buried in the back of the paper and appears under the byline “IR State Bureau.”
If most people aren’t impacted by the change, as the IR quietly reports in the back of the paper, one would think that information should be the lead in the major story of the impacts of the ACA policy change. Instead, the major story is a litany of quotes from person after person who say the change is harming them, implying that the change will mean bad things for most people–not more benefits for the same or less money or no impact at all.
Usually, I think Mike Dennison does a good job on health care reporting. In this case, it’s not known whether editors made a decision to siphon off the story of how the change impacts most people into a separate piece or whether Dennison’s piece was printed as he intended. Either way, this kind of thing is a disservice to Montanans who want accurate and unbiased news.