Thursday, June 29, 2017

Conservative news and opinion media are focusing less on health debate in Congress

Recent actions by conservative media and politicians, who tend to hold sway in rural areas, seem to reflect ebbing voter interest in repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, writes David Weigel of The Washington Post

Fox News and conservative talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh largely ignored Senate Republicans' decision to delay voting on an ACA replacement, Weigel reports: "The lack of 'Obamacare repeal' coverage, unthinkable just six months ago, reflected a general decline of conservative interest in what united Republicans for seven years. Conservative grass-roots groups have either ignored the latest health-care details, like Americans for Prosperity, or lobbied against the bill, like the Club for Growth."

To the extent that Fox covers the issue, the network frames it as President Trump himself, and not necessarily Republicans in Congress, waging war against Democrats. Some on the network have criticized Congress for failing to get the job done. 

Republicans in Congress may be acting cautiously in light of reduced voter interest and support, Weigel suggests. A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows 37 percent of Republican voters favor the ACA repeal. A USA Today poll released today shows only 12 percent of Americans in general support the Senate's health-care plan, while 53 percent say "Congress should either leave the law known as Obamacare alone or work to fix its problems while keeping its framework intact."

The proposed health-care bills from both the House and Senate would negatively impact many rural Americans, since the subsidy cuts would fall disproportionately on older and lower-income populations, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. A set of maps by the Post illustrates the various impacts; here's an example (click on it to enlarge; click on link for the rest):

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