Media Outlets Agree: Website is the 'Centerpiece' of Obamacare

If you’ve just tuned into the debate over Obamacare in the last 48 hours you’ve probably heard several times that it is more than just a website. That was the President’s message yesterday in his oddly self-congratulatory apology for the site’s failure. The President’s spokesman, Jay Carney, similarly claimed “It’s important to remember the website alone is not the Affordable Care Act.”

It’s true there is more to the law than just a website, but prior to this week there was widespread agreement in the media that the website was the “centerpiece” of the law. How about a few examples:

  1. “Obama’s appearance kicked off a major campaign by his administration and
    its allies to enroll as many Americans as possible through the
    exchanges, a centerpiece of Obama’s health care law.” – AP, 10/01/13
  2. “The health insurance exchanges are the centerpiece of the 2010 health reform law, called the Affordable Care Act or, more commonly, Obamacare.” – NBC News, 10/08/13
  3. “The Health Insurance Marketplace, the centerpiece of the 2010 Affordable
    Care Act (more commonly known as “Obamacare”), is set to launch two
    weeks from today.” – ABC News, 9/17/13
  4. “The centerpiece of the law are the state health exchanges that the
    federal and state governments have set up around the U.S. where people
    can shop for and purchase coverage.” – CBS News, 10/01/13
  5. “Just days before the launch of the new U.S. state health insurance exchanges that are the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act…” – Reuters, 9/29/13
  6. “The markets, known as exchanges, are a centerpiece of President Obama‘s health care law…” – New York Times, 8/04/12
  7. “The exchanges are designed to make health care more widely available and
    affordable for millions of people nationwide and are a centerpiece of
    the Obama administration’s much-debated health care law.” – New York Times, 9/26/13
  8. “On Tuesday, the online health insurance marketplaces — the centerpiece
    of President Obama’s health-care law — are scheduled to open for
    business.” – Washington Post, 9/25/13
  9. “Healthcare.gov, the federal government’s health care reform centerpiece under the Affordable Care Act, is supposed to help people apply for health insurance in 36 states.” – International Business Times, 10/09/13
  10. “officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
    refused to disclose the number of people who bought insurance through
    the online marketplaces that are a centerpiece of the Affordable Care
    Act (ACA).” – Time, 10/01/13
  11. “A week after the launch of the health insurance exchanges that are the centerpiece of the health care law…” – USA Today, 10/08/13
  12. “The premiere of the centerpiece of Obamacare, the state health insurance exchanges…” – UPI, 10/13/13
  13. “The health insurance marketplaces are the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act…” – The Hill, 10/21/13
  14. “…marring the debut of the centerpiece of President Barack
    Obama’s health care reform law.” – Huffington Post, 10/04/13
  15. Millions of Americans, including more than 900,000 in Illinois, will be
    able to log on to their state’s online exchange, the centerpiece of
    President Barack Obama’s health care law” – Chicago Tribune, 9/29/13
  16. “The exchanges are a centerpiece of a law designed to cover more of the 48 million uninsured Americans.” – Bloomberg, 10/02/13
  17. “Republican-leaning states have declined to
    establish insurance exchanges, a centerpiece of the reforms ushered in
    by the Affordable Care Act” – Talking Points Memo, 2/19/13
  18. “the centerpiece of the bill, a transformation of the individual insurance market, won’t fully take hold until 2014. The law sets up state-based insurance “exchanges” that will offer consumers and small businesses a choice of standardized and heavily regulated health plans.” – CNN Money, 4/22/10
  19. “Healthcare.gov, the federal health insurance exchange that is the centerpiece of Obamacare.” – Daily Beast, 10/18/13
  20. “volunteers pressed people in that Republican-led state…to participate in
    the exchanges that are the centerpiece of the president’s health-care
    reform law.” – CNBC, 9/30/13
  21. “The centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act launched today…” – MSNBC, 10/01/13
  22. “The centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act is an entirely new way of
    choosing and purchasing individual health insurance through new
    marketplaces.” – HealthNews Digest, 9/26/13
  23. “This week, the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, which provides
    health-insurance coverage to millions of people like Sullivan, is slated
    to go into effect.” – New Yorker, 10/07/13
  24. “The exchanges are a centerpiece of the ACA…” – Al Jazeera, 10/18/13
  25. “The exchanges are the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s landmark health reform law…” – Healthfinder.gov, 9/23/13

I hope you appreciate that last quote about the centrality of the exchanges comes from a government website.

When the President says, as he did yesterday, “let me remind everybody that the Affordable Care Act is not just a website” he’s downplaying just how central the website is to his reform strategy. It is central and needs to work for this to succeed.

The media as a whole had little doubt about that before this week. Hopefully the President’s spin won’t make them forget it.

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