Dear me, the N&O editors have lost all faith in Obamacare

Four years ago this month, the editors of The News & Observer made a ridiculous faith-based statement so sincere and dogmatic, I thought it worth memorializing.

Which is to say, it was so clearly wrong-headed, and their anger at doubters and nonbelievers so palpable, I thought it worth reminding them of it from time to time. Here is what they said about Obamacare back on October 22, 2013:

In happier times:

Recall that the News & Observer told everyone weeks ago that there’s “Nothing to fear as Obamacare arrives” and “plenty to cheer.” Believe it! For “it now looks likely that the ACA will indeed work and will yet become popular.”

The immediate web site troubles were proof to the N&O that Obamacare was crazy popular, the insurance equivalent of a new iPhone hitting the market. No, really: “On Oct. 1, the online insurance exchanges opened across the nation and people crushed in like shoppers standing in line on the first day of iPhone sales.” … Faith is, after all, “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Now the N&O’s line is that the rollout was “bumpy” (right, and when a plane crashes into a mountain, that’s “turbulence”) but never fear! For lo, “the future is promising.”

And “once reform is in place and running smoothly” — i.e., Step Two: “Then a miracle occurs” — well, “it will work and people will like it and wonder why it took so long to put something as sensible as the Affordable Care Act into place.”

It will work! People will like it! and … consecutive double-digit rate increases are “no surprise!

That’s the line they took last year at this time. What occasioned it? Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced a 24.3 percent rate hike. The previous year’s was 32 percent. That’s unquestionably bad, and only the faithfulest of the faithful could explain it.

Worse, it was compounded by this:

BCBS has felt big losses from its ACA business, and two companies, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna, have pulled out of ACA coverage.

Only one other company, Cigna, is planning to offer coverage in North Carolina, in five counties in the Raleigh area.

The editors were able to stay the course. They prefaced the entire editorial with this line:

It was, at least, no surprise.

Today, however, they’re ready to change out the program entirely. What happened?

Wolf-whistling when something crazier walks by

The editors write about how “back here in North Carolina, reality’s hitting home”:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, a major ACA provider and the only company covering all 100 counties of North Carolina, has won an average rate increase of roughly 14 percent for those insured under the ACA. Thanks to advance planning, the boost wasn’t as great as it might have been, but the uncertainty in the overall insurance market has resulted in huge jumps for other customers, with some on grandfathered plans purchased before 2010 (less comprehensive and less expensive than ACA plans) anticipating rates double or triple what they were paying.

BCBS isn’t gouging, but rather reflecting the uncertainty in the health insurance market and in the American health-care system, which on many levels seems hostage to the profit motive. What Congress should be doing, instead of trying to patch together something that will have bipartisan approval, is moving toward a single-payer system modeled on Medicare.

Wait, what? And then comes the fault-finding with their former sweetheart:

That is the only financially viable future for the vast majority of Americans, many of whom are seeing huge percentages of their income go to basic health insurance. Expecting people to give up all of their disposable income, and then some, for increasingly less comprehensive and more expensive insurance will not be a viable political option for those in Congress.

Was the catalyst another rate hike? That cannot be the actual reason because, at “roughly 14 percent,” this hike is considerably lower than the previous two, which readers were assured just last year “was, at least, no surprise.”

It’s hard to imagine the editors being gobsmacked by that now.

No, what’s happened is they’ve changed their minds on Obamacare. They’re the distracted boyfriend whose head’s been turned by single payer.

Clearly, the editors “have a type”: they’re attracted to the crazy, dangerous … policy.

And one just walked by.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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