Hiltzik’s Greatest Hitz

Michael Hiltzik is the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Los Angeles Times, but he seems to have undertaken the position of research assistant to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Hiltzik essentially purports to provide the documentation proving up Reid’s assertion that reports of the human damage done so far by the implementation of Obamacare are all lies. The cancellation of millions of citizens’ preferred health insurance policies we’ve been hearing so much about since this past fall — Hiltzik’s not buying it, and he doesn’t want you to buy it either. So far, he’s persuaded Harry Reid.

Hiltzik has been on the case for a while, even attracting the attention of our friend Hugh Hewitt. Hugh conducted a hilarious interview with Hiltzik on November 1. Reading the transcript of Hugh’s interview, you may conclude that in addition to other unattractive professional qualities, Hiltzik is not a particularly truthful guy either. See if you think Hiltzik interviewed the subject of one of his Obamacare columns for a half hour (as Hiltzik claimed at first to Hugh) or five minutes (as the subject of the post later reported during the interview). The lady or the tiger? I’m going with the lady.

Hiltzik did his Obamacare thing most recently in connection with Stephen Blackwood’s powerful Wall Street Journal column last week about the cancellation of his cancer-stricken mother’s Blue Cross policy. Hiltzik is on the case.

Obamacare didn’t do it, according to Hiltzik. Blue Cross did! Reading Hiltzik’s commentary, I wonder: why didn’t Blue Cross cancel the policy last year, or the year before? Hiltzik doesn’t go there.

Hiltzik also attributes fault for the predicament of Blackwood’s mother to her new health carrier, via Obamacare, Humana. Hiltzik casts his net widely and finds there is more than enough blame to go around.

But that’s not all! The villain of the story, as Hiltzik presents it, is former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, now under indictment on ginned-up charges by Obama’s Department of Justice. Talk about kicking a guy when he’s down; Hiltzik is not exactly a speaking-truth-to-power kind of a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter. He even has a mocking photograph of Governor and Mrs. McDonnell to adorn his post.

What did McDonnell do wrong? He failed to buy in to Obamacare and have Virginia set up its own exchange. He thus left Blackwood’s mother to the mercy of the federal Obamacare exchange.

Okay, I admit, that’s a foul fate. But is McDonnell really the villain?

Hiltzik compares Virginia unfavorably to Maryland, where Governor Martin O’Malley has gone all in for Obamacare, including the establishment of the state’s own exchange. If only McDonnell hadn’t been so obstinate, Blackwood’s mother would be A-OK.

But how is the Maryland Obamacare exchange working out? Hiltzik doesn’t say. For the news on Maryland’s Obamacare exchange, we turn to Peter Suderman, who ranks it the second worst in the country, after Oregon’s:

Days before the October launch of Obamacare’s health exchanges, President Obama chose Largo, Maryland as the backdrop for a speech touting the law’s benefits. In the speech, he praised state legislators for their work and suggested that state-run exchanges were ahead of the curve. But Maryland’s exchange quickly turned out to be one of the worst in the nation. The site failed almost immediately at launch, and despite repeated promises from state authorities that fixes were on the way, it has continued to struggle. Earlier this week, the state announced that it was terminating a $193 million contract with Noridian Healthcare Solutions, its IT contractor. Officials now say that the existing system is so flawed that they might discard it entirely.

Total Federal Grants: $157.2 million (a $1 million planning grant, a $6.2 million early innovator grant, a $27 million establishment grant to collect data necessary to build the exchange, and a $123 million establishment grant for ongoing operations).

Hiltzik doesn’t let Obamacare off the hook entirely. He faults it too, for leaving commercial health insurers in business for the time being: “The problem is that the Affordable Care Act not only left commercial insurers at the center of our healthcare system, but strengthened their grip on coverage. Many of the problems that have cropped up with the ACA are reflections of the private industry’s role, including its lousy customer service.”

Really. Hiltzik must be bucking for another Pulitzer Prize, or something.

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