It's All In The Framing: NY Times Admits Shutting Out Single Payer Coverage

Deleted scenes from Sicko (2007) showing the health care system in Norway. Ever wonder why the single most sensible, economical and democratic way

Deleted scenes from Sicko (2007) showing the health care system in Norway.

Ever wonder why the single most sensible, economical and democratic way to provide health care to every person in the US was never really mentioned in the rhetoric whirlwind of public options, opt-outs, co-ops, triggers and free market embracing?

Part of the reason why is that the media refused to mention it:

The media analysis group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) issued an action alert September 22 titled "NYT Slams Single-Payer" that described lopsided reporting in a New York Times article about "Medicare for all," a form of a single-payer health care system. FAIR noted that the article, titled "Medicare for All? ‘Crazy,’ ‘Socialized’ and Unlikely", laid out a list of arguments against single-payer while failing to include any balancing responses from the option's supporters.

Yeah, those nutty Norwegians, not to mention Canadians, Danes, French, Brits, Swedes, etc. etc. They're all just crazy for treating health as a human right, instead of a corporate profit opportunity. FAIR continues:

It's worth noting that thousands of doctors have voiced support for a single-payer system (see, for example, Physicians for a National Health Program's letter to Barack Obama), in part because they believe they spend too much on the administrative costs associated with private insurance companies. A survey of physicians published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (4/1/08) found that 59 percent supported government-sponsored national health insurance.

Seelye also wrote that Medicare for all "would almost certainly mean a big tax increase on the middle class," before noting in parentheses: "Supporters argue that a tax increase would be somewhat neutralized by the elimination of premiums that people pay now to insurance companies." Actually, single-payer advocates argue that a payroll tax on businesses (many of which currently pay for private insurance for their employees) and a small income tax increase that would likely amount to less than what most citizens currently pay out of pocket could fund a single-payer program. By calling a "big tax increase" a near-certainty and treating the savings on insurance premiums as a claim made by advocates, the Times told readers which side it was on.

Seelye cited Stuart Altman--identified as "a Brandeis economist who specializes in health care and who advised Barack Obama in his presidential campaign," but not as a director of a managed-care company that offers health insurance plans (WhoRunsGov.com)--to make a similar point about potential tax increases, and then went to "the other end of the political spectrum" to quote Robert Moffit of the conservative Heritage Foundation: "I don't see popular support for it beyond liberals.... It's a philosophical question: Do you want to give the government that kind of power?"

Of course, one might point out that public polling for years has demonstrated that support for single-payer is much broader than merely a liberal sliver of the population (FAIR Action Alert, 3/12/09); a July 2009 tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found 58 percent support for Medicare for all. But a piece detailing the deficiencies of a "crazy" single-payer system is an unlikely venue for that.

FAIR is asking that you contact NY Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt as to why they would run such an unbalanced and factually-challenged piece that hurts Americans by lying to them about their health care options.

CONTACT:

New York Times

Clark Hoyt, Public Editor

public@nytimes.com

Phone: 212-556-7652

About Nicole Belle

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Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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