–updated below–

Steve Russell, senior vice president and chief people officer McDonald’s USA, responds in a statement: “Media reports stating that we plan to drop health care coverage for our employees are completely false. These reports are purely speculative and misleading.” – Politico Pulse

Michelle Malkin gets suckered by the word “may” in a headline. Wingnuts just don’t do reporting very well, preferring propaganda that can be thrown at an angry electorate to get them even angrier, facts and details be damned. Malkin does cite the denial of the WSJ story in an update, calling it “damage control.”

That said, part of the Wall Street Journal today is important to emphasize:

“There is not any issuer of limited benefit coverage that could meet the enhanced MLR standards,” said Neil Trautwein, a vice president at the National Retail Federation, using the abbreviation for medical loss ratio. […]

Benefit consultants anticipate that, by 2014, most employers will stop offering mini-med plans. Such plans likely wouldn’t meet the definition of adequate coverage for full-time workers. Under the law, midsize and large employers that fail to offer such coverage will have to pay a fine. […]

“The packages maybe could be better, but for a start, they’re quite good,” said Jerry Newman, a professor at State University of New York at Buffalo, who worked under cover at McDonald’s to write “My Secret Life on the McJob.” He added: “For those who didn’t have health insurance through their spouse, it was a life saver.”

As you all know, I think the Democratic health care law is a fiasco. After Obama made his deal with private insurance companies, with Democrats choosing not to stand up and fight for the public option, opting for forcing people into a monopolized system, whatever health care might have been turned into something that will be easily hobbled if Republicans get into power. They’ll simply defund some parts of the program making it ineffective, not to mention a nightmare to change, something that is never easy once something is passed.

This type of story about McDonalds, which is offering mini-med plans that actually do a lot of good though certainly not perfect, is the equivalent of political gold for the right this close to an election. It confirms what people already believe about the health care law, none of it good.

To update, Jonathan Cohn, a health care expert, thinks mini-med plans suck.

To call that “insurance” is to distort the definition, since these policies would do very little to help people with even moderately serious medical conditions. (You can blow through $10,000 in medical care with one emergency room visit.) And those are the people whom insurance is supposed to help, since they are the ones who face serious financial hardship or have serious trouble getting access to care. As Aaron Caroll, who now blogs at the Incidental Economist, wrote several months ago when the issue first came up, “There are a host of health insurance plans out there that are cheap. It’s just that the majority of those also are crappy. Sure, they’re great if you’re healthy. They only stink when you get sick; but that’s when you need them.” (Actually, they’re not even so great if you’re healthy–but that’s a story for another time.)

The worst part of all of this is that what the workers at McDonalds need the Democrats wouldn’t fight for, and what was settled on won’t kick in until 2014, with a whole lot of bad likely to happen to the current law before then.

The other issue is that there is a grain of truth about the burden the current health care law will have on companies. There’s just no other way to put it. Obama and the Democrats blew this one, which should be obvious, because they’re not campaigning on it in very many places, with some Dems even running against it.