Thursday, July 18, 2013

Most Media Coverage Ignores Premium Drop, Focuses On GOP Effort To Undermine Obamacare

Early on Wednesday, as House Republicans prepared to vote for a delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer and individual mandates, New York state officials announced that health care premiums in the new exchange will plummet by at least 50 percent as a result of the law.

For reform advocates, the story represented a reprieve from the constant drum beat of media coverage about implementation delays, predictions of rate shock, and employers dropping coverage. But a ThinkProgress analysis of television reports about the health care law for Wednesday, July 18th, confirms that even with good news to report, bookers and segment producers are still far more interested in broadcasting stories about the political brinkmanship in Washington, DC than the actual, tangible progress of implementation. New York joined Oregon, Montana, California, and Louisiana in reporting lower than expected rates in the law’s new health care marketplaces.

ThinkProgress’ review of all national and local news segments containing the term “Obamacare” from 9:00 A.M. on Wednesday to 11:00 P.M., found that Americans were far more likely to hear about the GOP’s 38th and 39th efforts to legislatively slow down the law — bills that the Senate has pledged not to take-up and President Obama said he would not sign — that learn about lower insurance rates for New Yorkers. Of the 147 segments identified by media program Critical Mention to include “Obamacare,” almost all or 120 mentioned the House vote, while just 71 — or less than half — discussed the lower premium rates:

The results signal that administration officials will have an uphill battle spreading the word about the law and its implementation and will have to to break through the clutter of negative news and the millions in negative advertising to convince Americans to enroll.

As it already stands, 40 percent of Americans don’t know whether the Affordable Care Act is actually law, and for that, the media may be at least partly to blame.

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