On Tuesday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that smokers may not be subject to new tobacco-use penalties built into the Affordable Care Act, due to a “computer system glitch” that could take more than a year to repair. The AP claimed that some see the stumble as part of “an emerging pattern of last-minute switches and delays” for President Obama’s signature health care law, citing the administration’s recent postponement of the so-called “employer mandate” until 2015. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
But you wouldn’t get that sense from the mainstream media, as most major outlets have devoted little or no time to the story since it broke early Tuesday morning. The Tuesday morning shows (Today, Good Morning America, and CBS This Morning) ignored the development, save for a 10-second mention from Today’s Natalie Morales.
The Tuesday evening shows also avoided the story, with no reports of the delay from NBC Nightly News, ABC World News, or CBS Evening News.
The morning shows continued their blackout Wednesday – Good Morning America and CBS This Morning still ignored the story, and the Today show made no mention. Of course, the left-wing CNN and MSNBC networks have remained silent on the issue.
So far, the only network that has devoted considerable coverage to the controversy is Fox News. Fox and Friends, Cavuto, Special Report with Bret Baier, and Happening Now all discussed the “glitch,” while the latter two offered extensive analysis of the implications for such a slip-up.
The computer glitch emerged “because of a system limitation,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services, where “the system cannot process a premium for a 65-year old smoker that is...more than three times the premium of a 21-year old smoker.”
The AP writes that insurers have two options to address the issue until the administration can make a fix. One is to “limit the penalties across all age groups,” to remove the age discrepancy for smokers’s penalties and reduce the financial burden on older smokers. The administration has suggested this option to insurers.
Another option is to raise penalties on younger smokers to match those of older smokers, an option that would potentially burden young adults seeking to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
See the full AP report here.