These stories about consensus-building for Medicare are similar to those the media ran a year ago when Washington elites began planning their new legislative agenda. The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery then reported that “a surprisingly broad consensus is forming around the actions required to stabilize borrowing and ease fears of a European-style debt crisis in the United States.” That consensus, she wrote, had formed around a package of options for cutting the deficit, which included smaller Social Security checks and higher Medicare premiums. We asked: “A consensus of whom?” Was it Beltway opinion makers, reporters, or ordinary people who said they didn’t like those ideas? The same can be asked about Medicare.

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.