Lessons Learned from the Fight to Save Medicaid

This is the final installment in a three-part blog series analyzing how media coverage of Congressional attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have bolstered Medicaid. This series shows how what happened with Medicaid can be used to help combat the inevitable cuts the Congress plans to make in other safety net programs. 

Medicaid has become an indisputable media focus in the battle to save the ACA.

In recent weeks, this previously misunderstood 50-year-old government program has become the subject of abundant, in-depth news stories. A Google News search for “Medicaid” currently yields 5,570,000 . This coverage will undoubtedly build a strong constituency for Medicaid among the American people across the political spectrum. The program will never be perceived the same way.

A number of pro-ACA advocates executed an expert campaign to block the House and Senate plans to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. Although the Congressional fight isn’t yet over yet, it’s already clear that the resulting storm of news coverage should be studied and replicated for other key issues – e.g. cuts to social welfare, tax reform, and civil rights.

Coverage of the arcana of legislative sausage making and the partisan divide has given way to stories about real people and the likely impact of the Republican plans. The news media latched on to the centrality of Medicaid to Americans health and in many cases survival. This has whipped back on elected officials, many of whom dodged public appearances at town meetings and Fourth of July parades.

In the next two posts I’ll examine what made Medicaid stories catch fire and sustain public interest. Stay tuned…