Woodruff did not mention the individual mandate—a surprise, since it’s the sine qua non of the law and its most controversial provision. Instead she threw Lungren a softball, asking him to name “a few pieces of this that you want to see survive,” and failed to challenge him on what he said. Lungren blabbered about “patient-centered health care” and making sure that the “bureaucracy is not involved in this process,” and then got to that Republican hobby horse:

We have talked about preexisting conditions. In fact, we came forward with a much more vigorous program for having those pooled programs around the country for people with preexisting conditions. We ought to build on that.

Congressman: That’s exactly what the health reform law did. It provided expanded risk pools for hard-to-insure people by giving a bunch of money to the states to ramp up their insurance offerings for sick people. There is just one problem—the expanded pools have yet to score a win. The same affliction that has historically plagued all state risk pools plagues the new ones as well. The premiums they must charge are too damn expensive for most people. Medicare’s chief actuary predicted that about 375,000 people would sign up for the new pools; in early November only 8000 had. Your staff needs to do some homework, and so do researchers and producers at the NewsHour. Your constituents and their viewers deserve better.

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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.