Newspaper Editorials Slam Obama's 'Fix' for Healthcare Mess

Friday, 15 Nov 2013 11:33 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The nation's most influential newspapers are panning President Barack Obama’s proposed fix to his troubled healthcare reform law.

The editorial boards of the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the New York Times, which is often supportive of the president, attacked his plan to have insurance companies restore canceled policies that did not meet the minimum standards set out under Obamacare.

The Times called it a "modest fix" and criticized the president for his "repeated, and wrong, assertions" that Americans would be able to continue with the same coverage if they wanted to under the new healthcare law.

"It raises a few and troubling questions, most of which cannot be answered quickly," The Times said Friday, pointing out that the president is attempting to "head off a widespread defection from the reform law by Democrats who are worried about their re-election chances."

The editorial said Obama had damaged his credibility and that it would be hard for him to earn back the public's trust.

"If a relatively small population of people get extensions, as some experts think likely, the effect on premiums in the overall health insurance market may be minimal," the Times noted. "Even so, this disturbing reversal is caused by the incompetence of the administration in ushering in reforms that millions have been waiting for."

In an editorial headlined "A Troubling 'Fix' for Obamacare", the Washington Post said the president's fix may merely have the result of "easing the pressure Democrats are feeling and shift blame onto state and insurance company officials."

"At best, his proposed fix will have little impact except to let him shift the blame; at worst, it will undermine reform," the Post said, adding that the president was "wrong" to promise people they would get to keep their existing coverage.

But both the Post and the Times said that at least the president's proposal is better than legislative "fixes" put forward by Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, and Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, which would order insurance companies to restore the canceled policies indefinitely and allow them to continue to offer new plans that may not comply with Obamacare standards.

In its editorial titled "Obamacare's Nonfix," the Wall Street Journal wrote, "Americans still can't keep their health plans, but Democrats get political cover."

"You know the politics of Obamacare is bad when even President Obama is forced to concede that the rollout is a bloody mess," says the Journal. "If only the new ‘administrative fix’ he announced on Thursday did more to help the consumers who are losing their coverage than it does to help Democrats protect their political future."

The Journal, a far more conservative voice than either the Times or Post, attacked the president's "defensive politics" and lauded Upton's legislation as a proposal that "would do much more to solve the cancellation problem."

"They (the Democrats) are trying to impose on Americans insurance they don’t want, at prices they don’t want to pay, while limiting their choices of doctors and hospitals. This is the reality of modern liberal government," the Journal concluded.

In its editorial, "Obama Prescribes Ugly Fix for Obamacare," USA Today echoed the other papers in its criticism. It acknowledged that the president had "to do something" to stem the crisis, but added that "political necessity doesn't guarantee good policy, and the president's plan is less a solution than it is a punt."

Related Stories:

Obamacare 'Fix' Creates New Headaches, Say Insurers and Regulators
Boehner: Scrap Obamacare 'Once and For All'

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