A few weeks back, when I was looking for a local angle on the Supreme Court decision regarding the Affordable Care Act that reforms health care, I learned something I hadn’t known: The act already has benefitted tens of thousands of people on the Central Coast.
Let me repeat that: Your friends, your neighbors, already are living better lives because of the Affordable Care Act.
They and their children are able to see doctors when two years ago they could not afford to; their kids are getting vaccinations they previously could not receive; seniors are receiving heretofore unavailable preventive care; nobody can be turned away for bogus reasons.
The list goes on. The ACA’s beneficial aspects affect literally millions of people nationwide.
The question I have is, how come I didn’t know about this?
I’m a pretty sophisticated news consumer, to use the jargon, and I work in the profession. Was I asleep at the switch?
I asked a few of my colleagues about this, and they didn’t know much about the benefits of the ACA, either.
I believe most folks in the general public don’t realize it either.
Why is this? Because of (drum roll) yet another spectacular failure on the part of the national media to inform the citizenry of things that affect their lives.
Look at the stories online, in the newspapers, on the telly about this health care act, and what do you see?
You see an obsession with the politics of it. Talking heads blather about whether it creates a tax. They thrust and parry over which presidential candidate, incumbent President Barack Obama or challenger Mitt Romney, is scoring political points.
They call it, disparagingly, Obamacare, as though a partisan talking point is legitimate news.
I’m not saying there is no economic or political component of the Affordable Care Act. Of course there is.
But there is a human aspect, as well. Where is the coverage of that?
Has Wolf Blitzer interviewed a mom whose kid is healthier because of the ACA? Has John King dimmed the lights on his electoral maps long enough to speak with some guy in his 70s who is saving money and getting better care because of the ACA?
Of course they haven’t. That’s not what they are all about.
Let’s give credit as well for this negligence to the people behind the curtain. They’re called producers. You don’t know them, but they lurk behind the familiar talking head and whisper in his or her ear.
It’s dereliction of a news professional’s duty.
I believe these alleged newspersons ignore the human coverage for one principal reason: They are obsessed with the politics of the presidential race. They cannot see beyond it, and don’t care to.
In fact, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that they are the new kingmakers, or what we used to call “the smoke-filled room.”
Their desire to grasp the power to choose presidents focuses them narrowly on “horse race” coverage, at the expense of information that affects the rest of us out here on the wrong side of the Beltway.
Besides, we bore them. Where’s the excitement at a walk-in clinic on Grand Avenue or a doctor’s office on El Camino Real?
To reiterate: The Affordable Care Act is helping people. If you want to find out how, though, or whether it might give sustenance to you and yours, you’re on your own. Don’t look to the national media.
You can start by searching on Google for the Affordable Care Act.
Reach Bob Cuddy at firstname.lastname@example.org.