More conflicts of interest in ObamaCare?
posted at 12:15 pm on April 6, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Can mainstream news organizations provide fair and objective coverage of public policy when the laws in question put federal subsidies directly into their pockets? The Washington Post and CBS will have to answer that question after the Daily Caller reported today that both companies are receiving six-figure sums from ObamaCare. One Republican in the House called on both news outlets to identify their conflicts of interest:
Two mainstream news organizations are receiving hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars from Obamacare’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) — a $5 billion grant program that’s doling out cash to companies, states and labor unions in what the Obama administration considers an effort to pay for health insurance for early retirees. The Washington Post Company raked in $573,217 in taxpayer subsidies and CBS Corporation secured $722,388 worth of Americans’ money.
“It is fine with me if they continue covering the ObamaCare debate,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, in an e-mail to The Daily Caller. “When NBC used to cover energy issues, they identified themselves as a subsidiary of General Electric. CBS and Washington Post just have to disclose that they are subsidiaries of the Obama Administration.”
The ERRP, which Republicans call a slush fund, provides taxpayer money to Obama administration-selected states, companies and labor unions with already-in-place early retiree health insurance programs, and aims to make certain that their employees who retire early still have health insurance coverage before they reach Medicare eligibility age. Almost $2 billion of the $5 billion fund, which was supposed to last until 2014, has already been distributed to corporations. New projections expect the funding to run out before the end of 2012, if not sooner.
We’ve covered the problems in the ERRP here at Hot Air. In the first place, it doesn’t work, as other companies have dumped retiree coverage because the incentives turn negative under ObamaCare. Its funding had no rational basis for calculation, and Congress appeared to decide on $5 billion because that number happened to fit their political agenda.
But have these two news organizations covered the problems with retiree coverage in ObamaCare? On the Washington Post website, a search for ERRP returns … nothing. Under its full name, the Post only has one entry, a blog post from Ezra Klein last week acknowledging that the ERRP has already gone broke — a link to a Politico story. At CBS, there are likewise no entries for a search on “ERRP”, and a single entry under the full name from August of last year — and that is only a link to the Obama administration’s website touting ObamaCare.
It looks like the Post and CBS aren’t interested in covering the fact that ERRP was grossly underfunded and wound up failing to protect existing coverage. Gee, I wonder why that might be?