Health care reform is dominating the news cycle once again, just as it did during the early years of the Obama administration. And while the policies outlined by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the proposed American Health Care Act are vastly different, public reactions and news coverage of the health care plans bear striking similarities.
Like the Republican-proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), the President Obama-backed Affordable Care Act (ACA) saw highly-publicized opposition from both sides of the aisle. In 2009, “Blue Dog” Democrats posed a threat to the ACA, as they feared the financial burden of government-sponsored health care was far too great. And now, eight years later, Republicans are facing the same intra-party opposition. The effects of Republican resistance on the final vote remain unclear, but similar to the “Blue Dog” Democrats’ disapproval in 2009, the combination of uncertainty and mass news coverage have created a health care mania throughout the country.
The challenges to the AHCA do not stop at intra-party opposition, as public protests against the bill continue across the United Sates. Thousands protested the Republican plan to “repeal” the ACA last week, as the Congressional Budget Office released a report that estimated nearly 22 million Americans would lose coverage under the new health care plan. Democrats, too, saw large public protests against their proposed health care plan in 2010. In both cases, the organization of mass protests was heavily covered and discussed by the press, thus fueling the media fire surrounding health care.
Social media and traditional media helped contribute a major player in the health care debate, the term “Obamacare.” This term, originally coined by critics of President Obama, has come to carry a negative connotation. Calling for a repeal of “Obamacare” and its negative implications, Republicans have garnered some public support for their bill, yet seemingly not enough support in Congress. And using the unfavorable feelings associated with “Obamacare,” the Democrats and some media sources have begun calling the AHCA, “Trumpcare.” While both “Obamacare” and “Trumpcare” are colloquial labels for their respective health care bills, the implication of those terms has aided the strong resistance, or support, of the pending health care bill.
News coverage of the proposed health care bill is likely to intensify as Senate Republican leaders continue to make changes to the AHCA and lobby for inter-party support as they hope to bring a bill to vote in the near future.