Fox News anchor Bret Baier screwed up on Tuesday night’s edition of his acclaimed show, “Special Report.” As part of a “checkup” series on Obamacare, Baier took a close look at those who would remain uninsured after the March 31 enrollment deadline expires. The rationale for exploring this dimension of the health-care law, Baier suggested, was an imbalance in coverage: “While there’s been a lot of talk about the millions of Americans now covered under Obamacare, there has not been a lot of focus on those who will still be left uninsured even with the law fully implemented. An estimated 30 million people. That’s about the populations of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and West Virginia combined.”
Among those who’d be left out of the party, Baier continued, were indigent folks in Republican-led states that had opted out of the Obama administration’s Medicaid expansion. Such individuals faced a certain double jeopardy, in Baier’s formulation: “For those people, they not only face the prospect of not having health insurance coverage despite Obamacare, but now they will have to pay a penalty because of it.”
Untrue. The law provides a hardship exemption for those people. No penalty.
To his eternal credit, Baier cleared up the matter on last night’s program:
In last night’s check-up, we counted among those not covered by Obamacare but forced to pay a penalty, low-income people in GOP-led states that opted out of a Medicaid expansion. There is, in fact, a hardship exemption now for those individuals. In all, there are eight exemptions, and then 14 additional exemptions for hardship. And there’s even a hardship exemption now for anyone who was dropped from coverage and has yet to get a new plan, leading several experts to call that exemption a de facto delay of the individual mandate. But for our piece last night, we should have noted the Medicaid exception and the exemption. We regret the oversight.
Bold text added to highlight something of a journalistic innovation — i.e., editorializing within a correction.