The Real Story…

Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic has the complete back-and-forth of the latest blog war over SCHIP. It’s a must-read, from several angles.

The short version: Graeme Frost, a 12-year old, gave the Democratic radio address in defense of SCHIP, since he benefitted from it while having a severe brain trauma during a car accident. Conservative blogs and even politicians started attacking the Frosts personally, even publising their address and scoping their home, including questioning the financial position of the Frosts and whether they “deserved” coverage. As Cohn points out, most of the attacks were simply false.

Points of interest:
* As a consumer advocacy organization, we spend a lot of time talking with consumers who experience issues with the health system, and working to empower those Californians to tell their story, to policymakers and the press. In the world of politics where we simply can’t compete in campaign contributions, it’s the one power that consumer groups uniquely have over our industry opponents.

* In the past five years, Health Access hass been responsible for the majority of uninsured people that have come up to testify in hearings in Sacramento. Usually, politicians and political pros are deferential to what they call “real people,” who take time off of work and life (as opposed to those of us who are always here, and most of us who are paid be here.) So it is troublesome and surprising that the attacks became personal.

* Because we know both reporters and legislators ask questions, we spend an inordinate amount of time to vet the story of the individual, making sure that the issue is relevant to the legislative debate at hand, that there aren’t other extenuating issues. But apparently even that doesn’t matter…

* This goes to the very issue of individual “stories” as part of advocacy. For many, they already have a “frame” in their mind and will fit the story into that frame, and if it doesn’t fit, they will explain it away. But the stories do illustrate the issue, and provide a hook for media coverage, so it’s a part of our advocacy, and that of other consumer organizations.

* Either way, it’s an interesting debate that speaks to one’s worldview: What if the Frosts really were financially better off? Why is it so bad that there’s a program that insures that the child get coverage? At what point does somebody–even a child–become not “deserving” of help for health care?

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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