The corporate media continues its misinformation campaign against healthcare reform.
Major television networks have given inordinate attention to “perceived setbacks” to healthcare reform legislation while downplaying any progress, according to Media Matters for America, a media watchdog group.
Meanwhile, on a local level, The Oklahoman continues its relentless opposition to healthcare reform in editorial after editorial, often without mentioning there are approximately 46 million people in the nation without health insurance or that the price of healthcare and health insurance premiums have risen astronomically over the last decade.
The Oklahoman resorts to typical hackneyed, clichéd arguments about healthcare from a right-wing perspective. According to a recent editorial, “As it is, the legislation is a big-government liberal’s health care dream come true.” This “liberal’s health care dream” tripe prevents real discussion about the issue.
Here are some facts about healthcare in Oklahoma, which I have reported on before:
Roughly 1.9 million people in Oklahoma get health insurance on the job, where family premiums average $12,256, about the annual earning of a full-time minimum wage job.
Since 2000 alone, average family premiums have increased by 77 percent in Oklahoma.
Household budgets are strained by high costs: 29 percent of middle-income Oklahoma families spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care.
High costs block access to care: 17 percent of people in Oklahoma report not visiting a doctor due to high costs.
Oklahoma businesses and families shoulder a hidden health tax of roughly $1,900 per year on premiums as a direct result of subsidizing the costs of the uninsured.
19 percent of people in Oklahoma are uninsured, and 70 percent of them are in families with at least one full-time worker.
The percent of Oklahomans with employer coverage is declining: 54 percent were covered in 2007.
While small businesses make up 78 percent of Oklahoma businesses, only 39 percent of them offered health coverage benefits in 2006.
Choice of health insurance is limited in Oklahoma. BCBS OK alone constitutes 45 percent of the health insurance market share in Oklahoma, with the top two insurance providers accounting for 71 percent.
Choice is even more limited for people with pre-existing conditions. In Oklahoma, premiums can vary based on demographic factors and health status, and coverage can exclude pre-existing conditions or even be denied completely.
The overall quality of care in Oklahoma is rated as “Weak.”
16 percent of children in Oklahoma are obese.
28 percent of women over the age of 50 in Oklahoma have not received a mammogram in the past two years.
45 percent of men over the age of 50 in Oklahoma have never had a colorectal cancer screening.
Why do the editorials against healthcare reform in The Oklahoman never honestly address these issues? Health insurance premiums in Oklahoma have risen 77 percent since 2000, but the newspaper’s editorial writers apparently don’t even see it as a compelling issue in the healthcare reform debate.
The Media Matters study shows, perhaps, an even more insidious and subtle misinformation effort at work.
According to Media Matters:
In their health care reform coverage, media have repeatedly given considerably more attention to perceived setbacks to progressive reform efforts than to events that signal progress for those efforts. A Media Matters for America analysis of transcripts available in the Nexis database has found that broadcast and cable news featured almost twice as many segments mentioning the American Medical Association's (AMA's) reported opposition to a public insurance plan as segments mentioning the AMA's recent announcement that it supported the House Democrats' health care reform bill, which includes a public plan.
When it comes to healthcare reform, the corporate media is acting typically conservative, supporting the interests of big health insurance companies over ordinary people. In the end, this is a bad, long-term business model for major media news outlets, some of which are in financial decline.
The question is how the Democratic-controlled Congress and President Barack Obama should counteract the corporate media’s bias against healthcare reform as the debate intensifies and Republicans rely on the worn-out language of a dead ideology repudiated nationwide in the 2008 elections.
Should the Democrats directly attack the media for its bias over healthcare reform, risking further unbalanced coverage? How can they present their message more effectively through alternative media sites?
As I’ve written before, the nation needs more national and local media outlets that don’t rely on the corporate rhetorical frames hard wired in the current mainstream press.
(The Walter Cronkite quote in the above image can be found here.)