Advocates' Role in Helping Media Tell the Story of the Affordable Care Act

Aug 8, 2013, 12:00 PM, Posted by Jacquie Anderson

Last week, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) hosted a great workshop at its annual convention in Orlando on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the underserved. The RWJF-sponsored discussion entitled "The Real Deal: ACA and the Underserved" was a candid conversation about what members of the media need from the advocacy community to 'get the ACA story right.' 

Clearly, the media and communications professionals are hungry for information on the ACA and how it will affect consumers.  They find it challenging to keep up to speed on all the details and report it in an accurate, fair manner.

It is also clear our role and responsibility as advocates is to get them the information they need in a timely fashion. We shouldn't assume that the media are only interested in sensational stories: They want to know how the law is affecting people’s lives in the communities they live in.

They need to hear that getting people enrolled is a door-to-door, grassroots retail campaign, and we need them to understand these key takeaways:

  1. Consumers are hungry for factual information about how the ACA will affect their lives
  2. Advocates and community-based organizations along with others (including the media) have a key role to play in providing that information
  3. Given the size of the opportunity, as millions of people enroll in health insurance for the first time, there will be bumps along the road. But getting people access to health care is worth the journey
  4. The role of the media in providing factual information will be critical over the next few months

So advocates should reach out to media in their states and offer to get them up to speed on the ACA and to connect them to consumers who have compelling stories to tell. Make yourself indispensable!

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.