PROGRAMMING NOTE: "We Can Talk About" Podcast (& a shout-out from CJR)

I wasn't sure whether either of these items merited a full blog post of their own, but both are of mild interest so I'm mushing them together.

Recently I joined Chelsea O'Connor and Michael Zannettis of the "We Can Talk About" podcast, which bills itself as "The #1 podcast on the moral values of politics and how we use language to transmit them":

We Can Talk About is a fun, informative, engaging weekly podcast dedicating to taking back the narrative in American politics. For too long we've let the other side set the terms of the conversation and it's about time we promote our own nurturant values.

We spent an hour or so discussing the CSR reimbursement brouhaha, the ACA in general, and especially my ongoing battle to get people to understand the distinction between phrases like "single payer", "Medicare for All", "universal care" and so on in an episode entitled "The Road to Single-Payer Healthcare". Check it out!

In addition, just yesterday, Trudy Lieberman of the Columbia Journalism Review posted an in-depth and highly disturbing story about the Trump Administration's stonewalling and lack of transparency when it comes to answering healthcare journalists questions, as well as touching on how misleading and/or outright false much of the data they do provide oftentimes is. I'm quoted late in the piece, using the ASPE's disingenuous "105% rate hike" report as an example:

But as Gaba has pointed out, that number is misleading. The calculation includes only 39 states, notes Gaba. (When the other 11 are added, the number drops to 84 percent.) Gaba says it would have been “absurdly easy” to obtain data for the other 11 if the agency “had wanted to present a fuller picture.”

The “105 percent” increase also doesn’t consider tax credits, which reduce premiums for half the buyers in the individual market. And policies sold in 2013 were not the same as those sold for 2017. While the older policies excluded people with preexisting conditions, newer policies did include them, as the ACA requires.

CJR asked HHS about its media communications. This is what the agency said in response:

HHS aims to respond in a timely manner to reporter inquiries. We do make policy experts available to the media and we contact reporters as often as necessary to provide additional context and to seek connections if information reported is inaccurate.

On average, we do about 6,000-7,000 media interviews across the dept. each year, which could be about 500-600 interviews every month. Some months are even higher and some may be lower depending on what is happening that month. Calendar year 2017 is consistent with previous years.

The response also includes a link to HHS’ media policy.

In other words, a complete non-answer to any of the concerns raised in the article.

The whole CJR article is worth a read.