Skewed Coverage Helped Skewer Health Care Reform

As we arrive at the day of reckoning for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the U.S. Supreme Court, this excellent media analysis from the Pew Center for People and the Press reveals how media coverage of the issue contributed to public confusion and increasing opposition.

While many of us noted the failure of the President and the advocacy community to continue to “sell” or at least explain the virtues of the ACA, this report documents a number of other key media coverage issues that contributed:

  • Heavy coverage of Tea Party town meetings where the ACA was routinely bashed.
  • The excess of coverage focused on the politics of the issue and minimal attention paid to the merits of the legislation.
  • The lack of coverage of the abysmal state of health care, which had been heavily covered leading up to Obama’s election.
  • The 2:1 use of ACA opponents’ terminology used in media reporting.
  • The continuing debate over contraceptive coverage.

It is never too late to start telling a good story, even if it is in reaction to a bad Supreme Court decision that kills the program. In fact, in recent days there has been more reporting on the positive impact of the program on health care access for children 26 or younger. However, we also need to tout the impact that the ACA would have on the 49 million people who rely on Medicare, many of them young disabled people and our parents and grandparents, as well as those who depend on free health care coverage, such as the children of low income families. In addition to highlighting the benefits, we need to remind people of the horror stories about people having their coverage cancelled or being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, among others.

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