In the lead-up to President Barack Obama’s March 5 summit on healthcare, single-payer healthcare was largely excluded from major newspaper, broadcast, and cable news stories discussing the summit and the nation’s healthcare system.
According to a new study to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, single payer healthcare–“a model in which healthcare delivery would remain largely private, but would be paid for by a single federal health insurance fund (much like Medicare provides for seniors, and comparable to Canada’s current system)”–was rarely mentioned, nor were advocates of the system–two of whom attended the summit–cited.
“Over the past week, hundreds of stories in major newspapers and on NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and PBS’s NewsHour With Jim Lehrer mentioned healthcare reform, according to a search of the Nexis database (2/25/09-3/4/09). Yet all but 18 of these stories made no mention of “single-payer” (or synonyms commonly used by its proponents, such as “Medicare for all,” or the proposed single-payer bill, H.R. 676), and only five included the views of advocates of single-payer–none of which appeared on television.
The FAIR study turned up only three mentions of single-payer on the TV outlets surveyed, and two of those references were by TV guests who expressed strong disapproval of it: conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks (NewsHour, 2/27/09) and Republican congressman Darrell Issa (MSNBC’s Hardball, 2/26/09).”
The study also found that it is far more common to see single payer healthcare derided as “socialized medicine” or “government-run.”
However, in the absence of actual coverage of the system, this creates a wealth of confusion around the topic, even though it has support. FAIR cited the fact that a single payer bill in Congress has 60 co-sponsors and a recent poll that says the public favors it two-to-one over the current system.
No Coverage in Grand Rapids Press
We also checked The Grand Rapids Press’ over the same period and found no mention of single payer healthcare in its coverage.