As I’ve noted before, Catholic News Service has a distinctive approach to covering the Affordable Care Act: it freely presents worst-case interpretation as fact. Last February, CNS published a piece of agitprop dressed up as a news story on the alleged threats of “government-run health care.” And two weeks later, CNS ran another misleading article, this time purporting to bust White House myths about the contraception mandate — with a series of non-facts spun to serve a single point of view. And now CNS is at it again, with a confused story about Gov. Tom Corbett’s decision to allow the federal government to set up Pennsylvania’s health-coverage exchange, rather than have the state handle it. Here’s the lede:
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced Dec. 12 that the state would not set up its own health insurance exchange and instead join the federal exchange, which will cover elective abortions.
Just how the decision will impact such issues as abortion was not totally clear.
Both sentences contain misleading claims. Let’s start with the article’s false premise. There is no such thing as “the federal exchange.” The Affordable Care Act requires every state to have a health-insurance exchange by late 2013, where residents can compare and purchase coverage from a variety of companies. Congress intended these exchanges to be created and managed by states — because state regulators know more about local insurers and health-care needs than Washington administrators (subsidiarity!). But, according to the law, if a state opts out, the federal government will step in and create the exchange instead. Each state will have its own exchange. There won’t be a national exchange where anyone in any state can buy coverage. Illinois residents and small businesses, for example, will be able to purchase coverage on their state-run exchange. Illinoisans won’t be able to buy plans on Pennsylvania’s federally facilitated exchange next year, any more than they could buy a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Northeastern Pennsylvania plan today.
But the article’s confusion doesn’t end there.