Public TV Series Examines Health Care Issues in New Jersey

Health care series on public television's "Caucus: New Jersey"

From 1992 to 2000, four grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)—two to the Institute for Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University and two to Caucus Educational Corporation—provided:

  • Production funding for 14 health care programs broadcast from 1992 through most of 2000 on public television's "Caucus: New Jersey," an award-winning public affairs series. "Caucus" is broadcast from two public television affiliates—Thirteen/WNET (PBS) in New York and NJN-Public Television in Trenton, N.J.—and several cable stations to an estimated 9 million homes.
  • Partial support for "One-on-One," a health-related interview program produced in 1999–2000.

Key Results

  • The first grant (ID# 018985, to Rutgers) supported a special, multipart installment of "Caucus" entitled "New Jersey's Health Care Crisis." In three half-hour programs that aired in 1992–93, the series examined how three issues of national consequence—long-term care, preventive medicine and access to health care—were being addressed in New Jersey.

  • The second grant (ID# 019974, to Rutgers) supported four half-hour installments of "Caucus" that explored New Jersey's changing health care system, including the effects of managed care on both patients and physicians and the trade-offs involved in state-based reform. The Medical Society of New Jersey also funded this miniseries, broadcast in 1994.

  • The third grant (ID# 032917, to Caucus Educational Corporation) supported four half-hour installments of a "Caucus" miniseries called "Informed Choices." These programs were broadcast in 1998 and explored changes in the delivery of health care in New Jersey, including the increasing responsibilities placed on patients in their roles as consumers and decision-makers under managed care.

  • The fourth grant (ID# 036291, to Caucus Educational Corporation) supported three more installments of the "Caucus" miniseries "Informed Choices" and provided partial support for seven in-depth half-hour interviews with various health experts for the grantee's new TV series entitled "One-on-One," carried on commercial cable outlets reaching New Jersey, parts of New York State, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

    In 2000, "Caucus" won an Emmy award, as did its program host.

All of these RWJF grants supported educational outreach efforts that involved distributing selected "Caucus" programs after broadcast to approximately 200 high schools for classroom use.

The "Caucus" series is currently broadcast to an estimated 9 million homes from two public television affiliates—Thirteen/WNET (PBS) in New York and NJN-Public Television in Trenton, N.J. "Caucus" also is broadcast over several cable stations and can be seen by viewers in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.

Based on average weekly Nielsen ratings for the PBS broadcasts of "Caucus" (cable broadcasts are not subject to these ratings), the producers estimate that the series was seen by up to 1 million viewers during the 1997–98 television season. Caucus Educational Corporation's new "One-on-One" series was broadcast five times a week on CN8-Comcast Network and Cablevision to 3.6 million potential viewers in New Jersey, parts of New York State, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

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