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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Editors blocked health-insurance success stories until Trump moved to repeal law

Staff Writer John Cichowski, The Record's so-called commuting columnist, rarely ventures far from his computer, preferring to rewrite press releases, as on today's Local front, or publishing emails from readers. He's too lazy to ride trains and buses to report on the quality of service. Above and below, NJ Transit's double-decker rail cars at Newark Penn Station.



This headline on Page 1 of The Record today does a great job of summing up the emotions of roughly 800,000 New Jersey residents after President Trump started the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Still, many readers are questioning why the Woodland Park daily is only now publishing success stories about former President Obama's signature health-care law (1A and 8A).

Staff Writer Lindy Washburn, the paper's veteran medical writer, doesn't report how many of those 800,000 New Jerseyans have health coverage for the first time.

Nor do readers learn how many want to see the law repealed or expanded.

A poll released in December by the Kaiser Family Foundation found only 26 percent of Americans were in favor of full repeal of the law, while 30 percent favor expanding it, according to NPR.

The poll found Americans continue to be divided along partisan lines about the law.

"Few brag about having Obamacare," Washburn writes, using the pejorative favored by Republicans who have repeatedly tried but failed to repeal the law since 2010.

Success stories

The story is filled with photos of smiling people whose coverage pays for care in their battles with breast cancer, debilitating heart disease and other conditions.

As in her past coverage, Washburn doesn't mention much of the confusion in New Jersey resulted from Governor Christie's attempt to sabotage the law by refusing to set up a state marketplace for purchase of insurance policies.

Instead, New Jersey residents were thrown onto an overburdened federal marketplace, and their choice of heath insurers has been severely limited. 

However, Christie did take credit for expanding Medicaid for low-income New Jersey residents, but relied completely on federal funds to do so.

Refugee ban

Another Page 1 story today reports Christie called the "rollout" of Trump's executive order temporarily blocking refugees from entering the country "terrible" (1A).

What the story doesn't mention is that after the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Christie sought to bar all Syrian refugees, including children, from entering the United States.

That was followed by Record stories reporting that churches and social service groups defied the GOP thug, and settled Syrian refugees in North Jersey.

Free electric charging stations in the municipal garage in downtown Englewood.

Local news?

The Record today publishes three stories about Englewood, all by Staff Writer Michael W. Curley Jr. 

Two of the stories explore the many vacant storefronts in downtown Englewood, and a rise of bullying in the small city's public schools (1L and 6L).

But Curley -- and the editors who handled the first story before it was published -- downplay high rents as a leading factor in business vacancies.

The story on bullying in the schools doesn't mention that a bigger problem is segregation -- Englewood's elementary and middle schools are attended by few white students, and desegregation efforts apparently have been focused solely on the high school. 

For past commentary
 on The Record, see: