3 years late, L.A. Times finally notes huge flaw in Obamacare

Feb. 11, 2013

By Chris Reed

In April 2010, three weeks after Obamacare was signed into law, The New York Times got around to writing an analysis of the measure that looked at how a key provision had worked at the state level in New York. Here’s what I wrote about the ridiculously overdue analysis:

“[The Times noted that] New York’s health insurance system … [was] ‘a working laboratory for the core provision’ of Obama’s planned health overhaul: guaranteeing insurance would be available ‘even for those who are already sick and facing huge medical bills,’ and that these individuals would not have to pay higher rates.

“The Times’ analysis was grim: ‘Premiums for individual and small group policies have risen so high that state officials and patients’ advocates say that New York’s extensive insurance safety net … is falling apart.’

“Why? Because New York’s requirement that ‘insurers within each region of the state charge the same rates for the same benefits, regardless of whether people are old or young, male or female, smokers or nonsmokers, high risk or low risk’ made premiums much more expensive for healthy people, many of whom promptly dropped their coverage.

‘The pool of insured people shrank to the point where many of them had high health care needs. Without healthier people to spread the risk, their premiums skyrocketed, a phenomenon known in the trade as the “adverse selection death spiral.’”

Now, in keeping with the American journalistic tradition of only acknowledging the immense flaws of Obamacare after it is law, The Los Angeles Times has an analysis that finally noted a huge headache for California that I’ve been writing about for years:

“SACRAMENTO — As the state moves to expand healthcare coverage to millions of Californians under President Obama‘s healthcare law, it faces a major obstacle: There aren’t enough doctors to treat a crush of newly insured patients. …

“Currently, just 16 of California’s 58 counties have the federal government’s recommended supply of primary care physicians, with the Inland Empire and the San Joaquin Valley facing the worst shortages. In addition, nearly 30% of the state’s doctors are nearing retirement age, the highest percentage in the nation, according to the Assn. of American Medical Colleges.”

If they gave reverse Pulitzers, much of the national media would win prizes for its coverage of health “reform.”

Here’s a confident prediction: At some point this year, a reporter for the N.Y. Times, L.A. Times or Washington Post will look at internal documents on how the Obama administration plans to keep health-care costs down going forward and will figure out that sharply reducing the costs of caring for extremely sick people in their final months and years of their lives is a de facto federal priority.

And this reporter will write an article saying, you know what? Sarah Palin was right about death panels!

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