Confused NYT Coverage of Obama Health Care Law’s Prospects

The New York Times can’t make up its mind on what a Supreme Court ruling against Obama health care plan’s individual mandate would mean for the overall health-care law.

On page one today, it reports this:

Whatever Court Rules, Major Changes in Health Care Likely to Last

On the website today, a news analysis , presumably going in tomorrow’s paper, says this:

Insurance Mandate May Be Health Bill’s Undoing

On the one hand, the Times tells us this:

For the nation’s health care system, there may be no going back.

No matter what the Supreme Court decides about the constitutionality of the federal law adopted last year, health care in America has changed in ways that will not be easily undone. Provisions already put in place, like tougher oversight of health insurers, the expansion of coverage to one million young adults and more protections for workers with pre-existing conditions are already well cemented and popular.

On the other hand, it says:

At the heart of the challenge is “the mandate” — a provision requiring nearly all Americans to buy coverage or pay a penalty — that he so vigorously opposed as a candidate. If it is struck down, much of his signature legislative achievement could fall with it in a decision that would undoubtedly be construed as a rebuke to the president.

The main takeaway from this coverage: The New York Times doesn’t really know what will happen to Obamacare if the individual mandate is overturned.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,