Down East 2013 ©
Just about everyone wants to know how the new federal health-care law is going to change things. The answer from the Maine news media:
It’s not as if nobody among the state’s journalists tried to explain the complicated legislation. Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s Josie Huang put some serious effort into her March 22 report , talking to health-policy experts, bureaucrats, advocates, and politicians (although consumers were conspicuous by their absence from her coverage). Huang just never managed to come up with much in the way of solid answers. Some people said one thing. Other people contradicted them. Nobody was particularly helpful.
Lewiston Sun Journal staff writer Rebekah Metzler got the most substantial information of any reporter in a March 23 piece (as is often the case with the Sun Journal’s Web site, I couldn’t find Metzler’s article online), in which she explained that some of the major changes in the measure are already law in Maine, such as prohibitions against discrimination by insurance companies based on gender and pre-existing conditions.
The state’s other daily papers fell back on the old standby of writing he-said-she-said stories. John Richardson at the Portland Press Herald  told us, “No two businesses will be affected in the same way.”
Richardson managed to find a couple of companies that thought they’d benefit (although nobody seemed too sure) and one that was certain it wouldn’t. If that doesn’t clear things up, I can’t imagine what would.
The Bangor Daily News’ Meg Haskell  discussed the changes with Trish Riley, the governor’s health-care expert, and Joel Allumbaugh, a spokesman for health insurance companies.
The former was generally positive. The latter was generally negative. Neither was particularly certain. Or helpful.
Thanks for nothing.
As usual with complex issues, the television coverage was dreadful.
WCSH-TV ran a story  that contained an interview with a small business owner, who was pleased with the new law because it would allow her to offer health coverage to her only employee. Except her employee already had coverage through her husband.
Channel 6 also interviewed my DownEast.com colleague Mike Tipping , whose day job involves working for a group that advocates for government-run health care. Tipping discussed the benefits to people his age (those under twenty-seven), who could now remain on their parents’ policies. Except Tipping already has coverage through his employer.
Two interviews, neither one with anybody who’ll actually use the provisions in the legislation they were talking about.
Still, the WCSH piece was better than that offered by rival WGME-TV .
Channel 13 told viewers that they’d no longer have to worry about being denied insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Apparently, nobody at WGME bothered to read Metzler’s story in the Sun Journal.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org