NBC Gives Only 21 Seconds to Scoop That Obama Knew People Would Lose Health Plans; ABC and CBS Ignore

Near the end of the fourth story on Monday's NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Peter Alexander managed to squeeze in a mention of the network's scoop that the Obama administration knew for years that millions of people would be kicked off of their current health insurance plans because of ObamaCare, despite the President's repeated assurances to the contrary. [Listen to the audio]

Alexander provided a mere twenty-one seconds of air time for the revelation: "That millions will lose or have to change their individual policies is not a surprise to the administration. NBC News senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers found buried in the 2010 ObamaCare regulations, language predicting, 'A reasonable range for the percentage of individual policies that would terminate is forty percent to sixty-seven percent.'"

Alexander made sure to wrap up his report by parroting administration spin: "And White House officials insist they have always said insurance policies could change to offer more benefits. And to emphasize the affordability tonight, the administration says nearly half of all uninsured single young adults could get health coverage for $50 a month...or less."

Tuesday's Today completely ignored the news and neither ABC nor CBS bothered to mention it at all.

Lisa Myers was allowed to appear on CNBC's Squawk Box in the 7 a.m. ET hour on Tuesday to promote the scoop. Host Joe Kernen began the segment by telling viewers: "NBC, you've probably heard by now, is reporting that the Obama administration knew that millions would not be able to keep their health insurance as the Affordable Care Act took hold." They would have been lucky to catch the twenty-one seconds on Nightly News

Myers also went on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown in the 9 a.m. ET hour to discuss the story with host and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd. Todd introduced the segment:

For more than three years it was a key component of the President's sales pitch to the public, a promise he made repeatedly while selling the health care law....Well, now, that promise is proving impossible to keep and we're hearing from people who buy their insurance on the individual market like self-employed realtor Deborah Cavallaro who recently got a notice from her insurer saying her policy will no longer be offered because of the new requirements in the law.

Todd wondered: "Why did they have the President out there saying what he said? If he would have simply said 'most people' [will be able to keep their current health insurance]." Myers agreed: "Or even 'the vast majority' probably would have held up."


Here is a full transcript of Alexander's October 28 Nightly News report:

7:06PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The website for the President's new health care law is back up tonight after yet another technical problem over the weekend that prevented people from signing up for health insurance yet again.

For many middle-class Americans who buy their own health insurance, there could be another frustration, and that is sticker shock, after some learned they must buy new policies that cover more but cost more as well. NBC's Peter Alexander at the White House for us tonight. Peter, good evening.

PETER ALEXANDER: Brian, good evening. After weeks of questions about whether the ObamaCare website could be fixed and when, many policy experts say that is masking what is the real issue here, how much these plans will actually cost. It was one of President Obama's key selling points for his new health care law.

BARACK OBAMA: If you've got health insurance, it doesn't mean a government takeover. You keep your own insurance, you keep your own doctor. If you like your plan you can keep your plan.

ALEXANDER: But in Los Angeles, that isn't what Deborah Cavallaro is finding. A self-employed realtor, she buys her own insurance. Cavallaro's provider recently sent her this notice, reading, "Because of the requirements of the new laws, we can no longer offer your current policy."

DEBORAH CAVALLARO: All I want is what I currently have. I want to keep my doctors and I would like to have lower premiums.

ALEXANDER: The insurance company is offering her a new plan that would cost $484 a month versus her current $293 premium, a 65% increase. Why so much more? The Affordable Care Act requires that all plans include ten essential health benefits, from maternity care to pediatric services.

The administration points out many people will get subsidies to help offset the higher costs. And most traditional employer-based and government plans, that roughly 80% of Americans rely on, will not be affected.

That millions will lose or have to change their individual policies is not a surprise to the administration. NBC News senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers found buried in the 2010 ObamaCare regulations, language predicting, "A reasonable range for the percentage of individual policies that would terminate is forty percent to sixty-seven percent."

Health policy expert Bob Laszewski says the new rules make it difficult to carry over an old plan with less comprehensive coverage.

BOB LASZEWSKI: The problem with ObamaCare and where we are at now is the Obama administration has decided to implement this in a really rigid way.

ALEXANDER: And White House officials insist they have always said insurance policies could change to offer more benefits. And to emphasize the affordability tonight, the administration says nearly half of all uninsured single young adults could get health coverage for $50 a month, Brian, or less.

WILLIAMS: Peter Alexander at the White House for us tonight. Peter, thanks.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC