NPR Cheers On As ‘Obamacare Rolls Into N.H. Like A Political Campaign-And Wins’

Monday March 31 is the deadline for individuals to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act without facing a penalty and on Monday March 31 the folks at NPR’s “Morning Edition” did their best to spin the so-called success of ObamaCare in New Hampshire.

NPR reporter Tamara Keith hyped how despite polls in New Hampshire showing ObamaCare’s unpopularity, “Enrollments in the state have greatly exceeded expectations.” The story then went on to promote the story of Lisa Kerrigan who at 25 was “The ideal target for a sophisticated campaign in New Hampshire aimed at getting people to sign up for coverage.”

Keith goes on to promote efforts by Democrats to get individuals to sign up for health insurance before the deadline:

Half a dozen people sit around a table in a downtown Concord office, mapping out the final push to get people to enroll in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Karen Hicks sits at the head of the table. She's the project manager for Covering New Hampshire, which got federal funding to promote the law.

"We used all of the learnings from the last two or three presidential cycles and really applied it to this campaign," Hicks says.

Hicks was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton in 2008 and is a seasoned grassroots political strategist. She and her team used commercial databases to identify and target 50,000 households most likely to be uninsured. They did polling and focus groups to hone their message.

"I remember being struck by this in the first set of focus groups that we did," Hicks says. "We put the chart of financial eligibility in front of people and you literally saw people sort of go from having their hands crossed sitting back in their seat to leaning in and looking, and then when they could locate themselves on the chart, it just changed the whole tone of the conversation."

Keith continued to shill for ObamaCare, reintroducing her listeners to Kerrigan who beamed at how “I have a $170 deductible, which is nothing. I have $5 co-pays and $10 prescriptions. It's wonderful." The NPR reporter does admit that “New Hampshire is one of about three dozen states that chose not to create its own marketplace-so residents have to use the glitch-plagued HealthCare.gov” yet surrounds this detail with positive anecdotes about how ObamaCare has helped this young woman.

Despite all of the cheering for ObamaCare, Keith failed to mention that only one health insurance company is offering health insurance through the ObamaCare exchange in New Hampshire, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, leaving the uninsured with no other options for coverage.

The piece does note how “There are certainly people with less positive stories to tell, those who don’t qualify for tax credits or find their doctor or nearby hospital isn’t in the network” but then peddles that “More than 21,000 people had chosen a plan as of the end of February, significantly exceeding the federal government’s enrollment projections.”

Keith does concede that New Hampshire’s success may come with an asterisk:

"One possible explanation is that health insurance costs are quite expensive here in New Hampshire, and the offerings on the exchange are less expensive," says Stephen Norton, executive director of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies.

That means its possible people who already had insurance traded their existing coverage for government-subsidized plans. The answer to the question won't be clear for quite some time.

While Keith did acknowledge the negative perception of ObamaCare in New Hampshire, the entire segment desperately tried to portray ObamaCare as winning in the “Granite State” without ever explaining what winning actually means.    

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.