Reporters covering the health care law should disclose that their parent outlets are subsidiaries of the Obama administration, if those outlets benefit from the law in any way.
That’s the argument at least one House Republican is making, with respect to the latest conservative bogeyman — a program in the health care law that allows retirees to maintain insurance coverage if they’re not yet eligible for Medicare.
“It is fine with me if they continue covering the ObamaCare debate,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told The Daily Caller in an email. “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.”She’s talking about the fact that those companies have received federal funds to subsidize early retirement benefits for some of their employers. The grants were issued by the Early Retirees Reinsurance Program — a $5 billion bridge project in the health care law, which was set up to encourage businesses, unions, and states to provide health insurance to early retirees by covering the bulk of their health care costs. The goal was to ease people between the ages of 55 and 64 through to 2014, when the bulk of the health care law’s benefits go into effect. But demand was too high, and the program is no longer accepting new applicants. Those already enrolled will continue receive benefits until 2014, when the program is scheduled to give way to the insurance exchanges and subsidies that define the law.
Republicans have taken to calling this program a “slush fund” for administration allies.
Some of those beneficiaries, however, used to work for media companies. And logic holds that the working journalists they left behind can’t plausibly report fairly on the law, even though they haven’t benefited from it.