Television Programs To Feature Issue of the Uninsured
Numerous television shows are planning to highlight problems faced by the uninsured in upcoming episodes as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "Cover the Uninsured Week," an "aggressive campaign" to draw attention to the uninsured, the Wall Street Journal reports. Television shows such as Lifetime's "Strong Medicine" and NBC's "Passions" and "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" will incorporate story lines about people without health insurance into their scripts to draw attention to the 41 million people nationwide without health insurance and the "millions more" with "inadequate" coverage, according to the Journal. "We know a lot of Americans get their information not only from Brokaw and Rather but also from daytime soap operas and nighttime dramas," Stuart Schear, RWJF's head for "Cover the Uninsured Week," said. Weaving the message into a television plot is "much more effective" than "easily ignored public service announcements" that run during commercials, the Journal reports. However, such "issue placement has its critics" because there are no disclaimers informing viewers that the idea for the story plot came from the foundation. "Cover the Uninsured Week," which is being cosponsored by groups including AARP, the American Medical Association and the AFL-CIO, will run from March 10 through March 16. The campaign will feature celebrities, lawmakers, advocates and health officials in more than 500 events including town hall meetings and forums across the country to raise awareness and foster dialogue on possible solutions (McGinley/Nelson, Wall Street Journal, 3/4).
In related news, the Christian Science Monitor today looks at how the nation's health care crisis is now "taking a tangible toll" on the middle class. With "spiraling costs" forcing many employers to increase premiums so much that many workers cannot afford them and an "increasing" number of small and medium-sized companies "dropping insurance altogether," many middle-class people are losing their health insurance. In the next year, more than two million people will lose their health coverage, bringing the total number of uninsured to about 45 million nationwide. Covering the uninsured "has proved to be one of the nation's most intractable problems," the Monitor reports. The problem is compounded because of cost shifting -- insurance premiums increasing for those with coverage because of rising health care costs for the uninsured. While the solutions for providing health coverage range from individual tax credits for purchasing insurance to expanding programs such as Medicaid, there is "little consensus on which is the best solution," according to the Monitor (Marks, Christian Science Monitor, 3/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.