The Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) recently conducted a teletraining session on covering Obamacare issues that included as panelist a member of the The Commonwealth Fund, an organization run by a former Obama adviser. That panelist -- Sara Collins -- assured journalists that website issues and low enrollment were not indicative of deeper problems with the health care law itself.
The teletraining has been flagged by the conservative advocacy group Freedomworks in a post titled "Journalists Receive Specialized Training From Group Led by Former Health Adviser to the President," which was then picked up by the Washington Examiner.
The SABEW session titled "Health Care 101: How will the Affordable Care Act impact open enrollment?" featured a "panel of experts" that review "the issues journalists should be paying attention to and offer up story suggestions and reporting tips aimed at both general assignment writers and those on the health care beat."
The Commonwealth Fund is led by David Blumenthal, who served as President Obama's national coordinator for health information technology from 2009 to 2011, the Examiner noted.
The Fund makes no secret of its support for Obama's universal health care plan, as its site declares that it "marshaled its resources...to produce timely and rigorous work that helped lay the groundwork for the historic Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in March 2010."
Collins, one of the panelists for the SABEW's Oct. 28 session, is vice president of the Health Care Coverage and Access program. She can be heard on a recording of the teletraining remarking that healthcare.gov's user-related problems and low participation so far don't point to "deeper issues" with the law.
"I think it is a website issue," Collins said, adding that "the barriers that people have faced in terms of getting health insurance have been far more significant in the past than these website problems." Collins names lack of subsidies toward premiums and being charged more on the basis of your health as first among past issues.
Collins also emphasized to journalists listening in that signing up young, healthy people will be very important for Obamacare's success, as their premiums will help subsidize the higher premiums of older, sicker people.
Other panelists included Reed Abelson of the New York Times and Karen Pollitz of the Kaiser Foundation.
Here's a video primer on the Commonwealth Fund:
A section on the SABEW website also includes a link to "Health Care Resources from the Commonwealth Fund" under a "Tip Sheets" section:
The SABEW and the Commonwealth Fund are reportedly hosting a two-day symposium at Reuters headquarters in downtown Chicago Thursday and Friday, Freedomworks noted, saying the select journalists there — representing outlets such as Bloomberg News, CNN Money, the Associated Press, Forbes, the New York Times — will receive "specialized education in health care reporting."
While a SABEW spokesman did not respond to the Examiners' request for comment, the journalism society has in the past tried to offer a variety of opinions. In fact, TheBlaze's own president, Betsy Morgan, and even Glenn Beck spoke on an SABEW panel at a New York City gathering last month. Our own Becket Adams regularly attends SABEW events.
(H/T: Cold Fury)