12 Jun FAIR & Truthout Report on the Insurance Industry’s Influence on the Language in Media
Corporate Media Enable Industry War Against Medicare for All
Opponents of Medicare for All have a difficult task ahead of it heading into the 2020 election: They must convince Americans that they don’t want a Medicare for All health care system that would guarantee them and their family health care security regardless of circumstances. The for-profit health industry must achieve this in spite of the cruelty and inefficiency of the current multipayer system and morethan a decade of polling showing popular support for Medicare for All.
To do this, the industry has lobbied, donated and provided talking pointsto members of both parties and the press, in order to shape the public debate. In today’s hearing on Medicare for All in the House Ways and Means committee we will likely hear industry talking points in spades from members of Congress and in subsequent press coverage.
This service to the industry doesn’t come cheap. Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Democratic Rep. Richard Neal (one of the industry’s favorite Democrats), for instance, has received $2.4 million in his career from the for-profit health care industry. For the major industry powerbrokers, these expenses are a necessity if they hope to fend off the momentum of the single-payer movement.
The for-profit health industry is aware that support for a national health system like Medicare for All has risen in recent years, along with unprecedented grassroots energy. Moreover, health care costs rank as the biggest concern among Americans. Resistance is almost entirely driven by the for-profit health industry, who work to portray the illusion of widespread opposition to — and fear of — a national health system. Corporate media outlets have helped them tremendously along the way.
This isn’t a fair fight for progressives. The opposition to single-payer has deep pockets. The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), probably the most prominent coalition of private companies and trade associations, is spending aggressively. It is made up of dozens of industry lobbies, including America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Hospital Association, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, among other industry giants. A large part of the strategy, according to documents leaked to The Intercept, is “earned media,” or reports and articles they helped push into existence to support their agenda or repeat their talking points and statistics.
Here is where the industry is having the most success shaping the national debate over health care policy. Corporate media have enabled the industry’s efforts to keep health care in the hands of profiteers rather than the people. In fact, journalists and pundits often include the very same critiques leveled endlessly by the industry and its “astroturf” groups. It is not uncommon to see the press and industry share nearly identical bullet points, including deceptive reporting on polling, the prospect for alternatives to single-payer, and the impact it might have on the electability of Democrats in 2020.