Friday, September 27, 2013

Racine JT Confuses & Misleads On Obamacare

If anyone thought the Racine Journal Times was going to present the opening of health care exchanges in Wisconsin with an informative and concise presentation - all they needed to know about how wrong they might be was contained in the very graphic designed for the occasion.

A big red cross casting a dollar-sign shadow and the words "Affordable?" emblazoned across the top.

Uh oh. This is not looking promising.

[Just to be sure we weren't reading too much into the graphic - we made a similar one of our own. Instead of "Affordable?" we used the word "Reliable?" and focused it at the JT.

Doesn't look like we're complimenting them, does it? Good. We weren't.]

So, if you were one of the thousands of people in Racine County who do not have health insurance or one of the 3000 people who are going to lose BadgerCare - counting on the JT to give you any advice about health care in Racine is a colossal waste of time.

No, instead of providing a community service to people in the area, the JT has followed the lead of our Governor acting as if the entire state is being punished by Barack Obama with very little acknowledgement that questions remain because Scott Walker refuses to engage in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The JT reported on Monday the City of Racine was not participating in the assisting people in the new exchanges - much to the dismay of County Executive, Jim Ladwig. Casually mentioned by author, Michael Burke, is the fact that Ladwig got $1.6 million to assist residents in enrolling over the next 2 years.

Ladwig is hoping some "community groups" step up since the city will not.

Wait a minute! What's Ladwig doing with the $1.6 million? Are they training navigators to help sign people up and find the the best deal? (Which BTW cost more to get licensed in Wisconsin than most other states because, Scott Walker.) Have they used the money to hold informational meetings or send out flyers?

Did Michael Burke even ask? No, of course not.

Instead, he used the opportunity to make the city look bad even though the Department of Health is run by the county - not Racine.

In reporting which insurance companies in the exchange were going to include Racine's only hospital, All Saints, Burke reported that Molina Healthcare was not. That was on the 19th of September, he repeated the claim on the 23rd as well.  A week later - Journal Times "staff" reported there had been an error - Molina would include All Saints.

Anyone even tangentially interested in the exchanges knew Molina included All Saints - but somehow the JT did not. They blamed it on a computer error.


In looking through the list of online articles with the Health Care tag on the JT- two things struck us: 1. With more than a dozen articles written about it, we could not find one link to the health care exchange. 2. Their article titles reveal an obvious predisposition that might not be apparent if you were just reading a print edition...

"Some expect problems with health insurance exchanges"
"Obamacare? Never heard of it"
"The insurance penalty - Employers weigh Obamacare fine instead of coverage"
"Complex, uncertain -- Obamacare rollout has businesses scratching heads"
"Insurance company cites Obamacare in dropping veterinarians' group plan"
"New national health care law clouds reimbursement picture for hospitals"
"Aurora CEO cites Obamacare as partial cause of job cutbacks"

Are you picking up some attitude here? Me too.

The majority of these articles were penned by Michael Burke who appears to be no fan of the Affordable Care Act - and who probably has employer based health insurance.

Let the Siren explain to Burke and our dear kittens what the ACA will do - even for those who won't need to visit the exchange:

  • End lifetime caps on health coverage.
  • Outlaw charging women more for health insurance.
  • End discrimination for pre-existing conditions.
  • Allows children to stay on their parents insurance until age 26.
  • Force insurers to cover all screenings and check-ups.
  • Require insurance companies to use 80% of premiums on care or refund the money to customers.
  • Limit the amount insurance companies can raise premiums each year.
  • Closes the "doughnut hole" in Medicare Part D.  
If you read the JT, you might think the world will end next Tuesday. It will not.

Let's face it. People in Racine who don't have health insurance because they can't afford it, probably don't have subscriptions to the Journal Times. Their interest is catering to readers who believe Obamacare can and should be repealed. That's a shame.

Oh, and BTW.