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Health Care Reform: 1994 vs 2013

Updated on November 29, 2013

1994 Health Reform - A 'one side of the story' view in the media

When thinking about the health care reform bill in 1994 proposed by President Bill Clinton and compares to health care reform bill from President Obama, the media plays a huge role with influencing the citizens of this country. It appeared from the conversation in the video “The Great Health Care Debate” from 1994 by Bill Moyer that merely all news media outlets showed one side of the story and never discussed or put on the air that other health care reform bills had been proposed nor were they debated, compared to give the American people the opportunity to formulate their own opinions as to which bill they think would be most beneficial to resolving the health care crisis in this country.

Media Coverage and Social Media

When comparing the coverage from 1994 to the coverage that “Obama Care” has received there is a great deal of difference. First social media is now playing a major role in getting the message out to younger generations and those who are able to vote. The use of Twitter and Facebook played a large role in the election of this current President and the Health Care Reform bill that was signed into law. Big news media outlets such as ABC, CBS, and NBC typically air more information, news and advertisements in favor of one party over another. While the opposite point of view does get some coverage, the “side” that particular media outlet is in favor of gets more coverage.

When you think about the coverage the above-mentioned stations portray and compare that to Fox News Media outlets; Fox News typically shows the opposite side of the debate on health care reform and makes attempts to expose flaws in the news from other stations and typically debates both sides of the story. They too, typically show one side of the health care reform more than the other. One key difference is that now the people in this country have the option to see both sides of the story depending on what stations they watch or news paper they read, and if the person is interesting at hearing, reading, or seeing both points of view they have more of an option by changing stations, where as in 1994 all media coverage was aimed in one direction without showing the other side. Furthermore, the younger vote is more prominent today and played a large role for getting the message out for Obama Care than it did for Clinton Health Plan.

The media played a role in defeating the Clinton plan with the amount spent on advertisement, no discussion of other options and people were limited to the source of information they had available to them at the time. As discussed in the video with Bill Moyer, Rush Limbaugh contributed to the demise of the Clinton Health Reform bill because he held a captive audience never gave consideration to those who opposed his views and opinions to come onto his show and debate and have a conversation with multiple perspectives. While he plays a role in the conservative voice today people have more sources to choose from. A person can listen to his show, have access to other media outlets, social media and online research abilities to verify the information provided from his talk show. They can use other sources to compare the information provided and formulate their own opinion.


The media and Health Reform today.

Today, the media has slight more balanced coverage on health care reform than it did in 1994. However, at times themes for favoritism of one side versus the other can be seen. Depending one what station you choose to watch, media form you choose to follow, some can be more balanced than others. Often the media continues to use language that the “common person” does not understand. “Press coverage of the effort to reform health care has been largely incoherent to the man on the street” (Liberman, 2010, p. 15). My opinion on the media is that there still remains a great deal of biases among the different media organizations and now more than ever before, they not only choose a side to rally behind but they typically attack each other or attempt to expose flaws in the coverage and opinions given from one station to the other. It is highly unlikely that there will be little to no biases coming from the news media sources. It is up to the individual person to take the time to sort through the information given from one source to another and formulate their own thoughts and opinions based from facts that are research able.

The media is not always correct and many people do not take the time to research the truths of what is reported to them. My position on the media is that they still remain bias most of the time, even the stations that have claims they are “fair and balanced” when it comes to reporting. The “whole” story is not always shown in the media and often is misleading to the American people. Personally, I watch the information provided from one source that is known to be conservative as well as one source that is known to report more of a liberal “flavor” and from both sides I develop my own opinions and thoughts regarding politics and health care reform that is taking place in this country. Ponnuru (2009) writes gullibility regarding liberal claims about health care, combined with skepticism toward conservative ones, seems to be a chronic condition for most reporters on the health-care beat.

From the Democrats came the narrative of “affordable, quality health care” – empty, focus-group tested words that mislead millions of Americans into thinking reform would be health insurance to everyone and health care that was both cheaper and better. From Republicans we got the predictable fear-mongering about “government-run health care,” but few alternate solutions (Lieberman, 2010).

Conclusion on News Media

Relying on news media coverage can be influential and bias and should not be tolerated by an individual who should seek the real truth from other sources. In summary, traditional news media is not a reliable source of information if you are looking to get to “meat” of a story or public issue, however, if you are only looking for the “potato’s” of a story or public concern such as health care reform in this country, a person must do their own investigation and utilize other avenues for research and information.

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The great health care debate. (1994). Films On Demand. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from

Lieberman, T. (2010). An rx for reporting. Columbia Journalism Review, 58(6), 15-16.

Ponnuru, R. (2009). Media malpractice. National Review, 61(20), 26-28.

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