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.
The story of the ACA repeal began as a partisan political clash. Anti-repealers argued that new Congressional legislation was really about tax cuts for the rich and the epic transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.
But then the news coverage got more personal. Journalists began to emphasize human needs that would result from the millions of Americans who would become uninsured or lose their Medicaid coverage entirely. The old adage of TV news coverage “if it bleeds it leads” sure seemed to apply.
Of critical importance: the overarching message about the value of Medicaid has stayed strong, and has been reinforced by slicing and dicing the issue by various beneficiary groups and urgent community needs. A July 10 study released by Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health showed that Medicaid recipients are overwhelmingly satisfied with their coverage and care.
Medicaid was shown to affect a number of other critical issues, including:
- The crisis of opioid addiction, particularly in hard-hit states
- Schools and their services for disabled students
- Nursing homes where 6 in 10 residents are paid for by Medicaid
- Children’s health
- Cancer survivors
- HIV/AIDS treatment
- People living with disabilities
- Senior citizens health
Many media stories mentioned the prevailing myth that Medicaid is a just a health program for the poor but then go on to shatter it.
The story shifted “from poor people to your people.” In so doing, the public grew more educated about the value of this vital program to their neighbors and maybe someday to themselves.