Next, I phoned Gregory Sullivan himself to find out how the IG’s office arrived at the numbers McConville reported. He explained they used data from the Massachusetts Division of Insurance and other sources. Indeed, the numbers were correct, he said; health reform hadn’t done much to bring rates down to more reasonable levels. Whether the rates will drop in the future may be problematic, Sullivan explained. It has a lot to do with not only global payments, but how those payments will work with tougher insurance regulation. I will tackle that subject in another post.

So you see, dear reader, the story is more complicated than the paper of record reported. We expect political candidates to oversimplify policy positions and outcomes. Like it or not, that’s what they do. But if they want to be taken seriously, newspapers can’t do the same.

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.