NYT Relays News of Census Bureau’s Health Coverage Survey Changes, Buries Lack of Disclosure Before Elections
In a Tuesday story which appears to have been handed to it on a silver platter, and which the rest of the establishment press seems uninterested in spreading (given that searches at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday at the Associated Press and at Politico returned nothing relevant), the New York Times has reported that the Census Bureau “is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.”
It took Times reporter Robert Pear 15 paragraphs to tell readers that measurement and reporting under the new survey design will be so supposedly difficult that “the agency was not planning to release coverage data from early this year in its next report.” That statement indicates that the government will not disclose anything about how the rollout of Obamacare really affected the number of uninsured Americans — even under the new methodology — before this fall’s elections. Everyone together now, say “How convenient.”
Here are key paragraph’s from Pear’s spoon-fed propaganda:
Census Survey Revisions Mask Health Law Effects
The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.
The changes are intended to improve the accuracy of the survey, being conducted this month in interviews with tens of thousands of households around the country. But the new questions are so different that the findings will not be comparable, the officials said.
An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a “total revision to health insurance questions” and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.
… With the new questions, “it is likely that the Census Bureau will decide that there is a break in series for the health insurance estimates,” says another agency document describing the changes. This “break in trend” will complicate efforts to trace the impact of the Affordable Care Act, it said.
… The questionnaire traditionally used by the Census Bureau provides an “inflated estimate of the uninsured” and is prone to “measurement errors,” (*) said a working paper by statisticians and demographers at the agency.
In the test last year, the percentage of people without health insurance was 10.6 percent when interviewers used the new questionnaire, compared with 12.5 percent using the old version. Researchers said that they had found a similar pattern in the data for different age, race and ethnic groups.
… Another Census Bureau paper said “it is coincidental and unfortunate timing” that the survey was overhauled just before major provisions of the health care law took effect. “Ideally,” it said, “the redesign would have had at least a few years to gather base line and trend data.”
The old questionnaire asked consumers if they had various types of coverage at any time in the prior year. (*) The new survey asks if they have insurance at the time of the interview — in February, March or April — then uses follow-up questions to find out when that coverage began and what months it was in effect.
… However, Mr. O’Hara of the Census Bureau said the agency was not planning to release coverage data from early this year in its next report. Agency officials want to assess the reliability of the monthly data, being collected this year for the first time.
(*) — The asterisks used twice in the above excerpts point to a complaint people have had for decades about the bureau’s chronically inflated calculation of the number of uninsured. A person was included in the “uninsured” category if they had no coverage at any time during the previous 12 months. So people who had a short break in coverage due to changing jobs would be artificially shoved into this category. The press almost never questioned the validity of this inflated statistic during the several decades it was used, and leftists routinely ridiculed those who tried to point out this serious flaw.
The Times is prominently featuring Pear’s tremendously important story in its Wednesday print edition. I’m kidding of course. A note added at the bottom of the article just before midnight indicates that it’s on Page A16. It also has a more neutral headline: “Census Changes Complicate Tally of Health Law.”
At the Times’s web site, Pear’s story is the second one listed in Politics and is found about two-thirds of the way down the home page. It’s considered less important than “Texas Twins Campaign, but They Aren’t Sure for What.”
At the Washington Post, which like the AP and Politico has no direct coverage, Greg Sargent’s Plum Line Blog has a link to a Huffington Post item which attacks Republicans for having the nerve to “Accuse (the) Census Bureau Of Trying To ‘Hide The Effects Of Obamacare.’”
Well, that’s because that’s what the bureau is doing.
Just make sure low-information voters don’t find out about the government’s transparent effort at non-transparency.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.