by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Mainstream media outlets were slow to cover the Obama administration’s Monday announcement of a 25 percent average increase in federal Obamacare premiums for 2017, and for some, the news wasn’t worth covering at all.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday at 5 p.m. that in addition to the price increase, there would be 36 percent fewer plans to choose from. When data was used for the three state-run exchanges for which data was available, the average price increase dropped just a little, to 22 percent.
HHS released the news at 5 p.m., but even hours later, no trace of the story could be found on the websites of NBC News or MSNBC.
Other mainstream news outlets that did decide to cover it did so only a few hours after the HHS embargo ended at 5 p.m.
The Washington Post, for example, initially didn’t put the story anywhere on its front page. Only by searching the Post’s website could readers discover that the paper put up the AP story on the announcement, headlined: “Obama administration confirms double-digit premium hikes.”
Then, just before 7 p.m., the Post put up its own version of the story with the headline: “Average premiums for popular Affordable Care Act plans rising 25 percent for 2017.” The story appeared under a story about Cleveland’s recent “sports prosperity,” a reference to the Indians making the World Series, and the Cavaliers’ recent NBA championship.
The New York Times took the same approach. The story was absent from its front page for a few hours, but a search revealed it also went with the AP story.
Just before 8 p.m., the Times had its’ own story that appeared in the top left-hand column of its website: “Some Health Plan Costs Will Rise Sharply, U.S. Says.” A subheadline said the increases “all but ensure that the next president will need to make significant adjustments to the health law.”