A truly transparent process would tell Medicare beneficiaries that buried deep in the legislation are provisions that would require them to shoulder more their medical costs when they buy Medicare supplement policies Plans F and C, the most popular plans. Right now most seniors don’t have a clue they might have to pay more.

Would they learn all this on C-SPAN or at Obama’s next televised event? Maybe, maybe not. If Harry Reid had made his deal with Ben Nelson on C-SPAN, would there have been a deal at all? Who knows? My guess is that the two would have signaled to each other in a code that few listeners could make out. Or does the public still need a go-between like the press to explain it for them? In my book, the need for that press function has not disappeared.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.