The Big Three networks' evening newscasts on Wednesday failed to notice the Obama administration's latest revelation about ObamaCare: that more than 300,000 people who signed up for health plans under the controversial law could lose them because they failed to prove they were legal residents of the U.S. Instead, ABC's World News aired a full report on a "beauty queen's" insurance scam, while CBS Evening News gave 19-second news brief on the Perseid meteor shower.
Elizabeth Hartfield detailed the federal government's admission in an online report for CNN.com's Political Ticker blog on Wednesday. CNN anchor Michaela Pereira summarized this reporting during a 18-second news brief on Wednesday's New Day: [MP3 audio available here; video below]
MICHAELA PEREIRA: The Obama administration is issuing a warning to hundreds of thousands of people who have purchased health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. They could lose it without proof of citizenship or legal residency. Officials say more than 300,000 people could be affected. They have until September 5 to submit the proper documentation.
Besides the meteor shower and the insurance scam reporting, CBS Evening News and ABC's World News, along with NBC Nightly News, aired full segments on the apparent foreign policy dispute between President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which together totalled. ABC's Jonathan Karl spotlighted how "Secretary Clinton offered her most pointed criticism yet of President Obama's foreign policy." NBC's Lester Holt introduced Chris Jansing's report by noting that Clinton was "hoping to 'hug it out,' after some critical comments about the President's foreign policy." CBS's Scott Pelley ended a segment with fellow anchor Bob Schieffer by hyping how "even the Democrats are running against the President." Together, these full reports from the networks on the Clinton/Obama spat totaled just under four minutes of air time.
A mere two sentences into her CNN.com article, Hartfield underlined that "the issue at hand is not necessarily an immigration status problem, but a data-matching issue." She continued by outlining that these hundreds of thousands "have inconsistencies in the information they provided when they initially enrolled in a healthcare plan....And while many cases have been resolved, there are around 310,000 consumers with outstanding documentation issues....Consumers have until September 5 to provide the necessary documents, and coverage will end for those who do not on September 30."
The CNN correspondent later explained that the "immigration statuses that qualify for coverage under the ACA are listed on the healthcare.gov website. The list includes lawful permanent residents, refugees, victims of trafficking, among others." She also pointed out the longstanding criticism of the website's weakness in verifying the residency information of applicants:
Opponents of the ACA have long warned that the enrollment site is not adept at verifying the eligibility of applicants, and these latest numbers are another example of that on-going issue. A report released in June from the office of the inspector general for the HHS found "deficiencies" in some of the controls meant to prevent fraudulent or incorrect information submitted by applicants to the Federal marketplace.