In the Obamacare Debate, the Media Has Completely Failed Us


After I took a class on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I found it hard to take the news coverage of the “debate” seriously at all. Why? Because the ACA was not radical, was not going to impose death panels, world-crumbling taxes, or any of the other boogie-monsters that Republicans have tried to conjure up. Read the bill. No boogie-monsters to be found, I promise.

So, when I listen to the predictions about the end of liberty and a new day for overreaching government, I am confused and just a little bit hurt that something so valuable as public health is being politicized to win a few elections. Perhaps it is the bill’s highly technical nature that allows it to be so easily politicized and manipulated in the press.

Maybe, but I want to point the finger squarely at the media for a minute. Are there really two sides to this debate? The short answer is not really. The long answer is definitely not. The debate took place in Congress in 2010—that was the start and end of it. Any “debates” that we have had since then in the public eye have been purely for political grandstanding and demagoguery. How can the GOP decry this bill when it will likely save money in the long run, reduce acute-care expenditures, and keep more Americans healthy?

When major industry groups like the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association are on board for the type of overhauls present in the ACA, who is really arguing against it? Just the GOP, as far as I can tell. And not only are they the only dogs in the fight, they are fighting from what it seems to be the shakiest, most fact-devoid corner that can be found in politics today. So if it is just a party of ideologically-isolated making all of this noise, why have they been given an equal amount of air time to shout about their grievances?

The media has a responsibility to report the news accurately, not report the faux debate about the news. It’s easy to see why polls show that the American public is still torn on the ACA. They don’t know much about it other than that the Republicans hate it and that President Obama signed it into law. Now, they know that the Supreme Court says it is constitutional and will remain law. And the media should be reporting on the content of that law. Is that a formidable challenge? Certainly.

But if the GOP’s fight against good legislation isn’t apparent yet, consider Sen. Rand Paul’s comments on the ACA Supreme Court ruling: “Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so.” So, let’s fix the news coverage to really reflect what’s going on: what the law says, what it will do, and why it’s the right thing for America. If Rand Paul brushed up on his understanding of the Constitution’s division of powers, perhaps he would rethink his position, too.