If you haven’t heard Jordan Acker’s story, it won’t take long.
In just 16 tweets last weekend, the Huntington Woods dad and attorney revealed how a bad drug reaction shut down his liver. Thankfully, he recovered, but it left him a pre-existing condition. And under Trumpcare, he and millions of others with pre-existing conditions will be paying more for health insurance — and many won’t be able to afford it at all.
Here are the first tweets, but read the whole thing:
Acker told me that something amazing happened after he shared his story on Twitter. He heard from roughly 10,000 people, from across the country and across the globe, about their health care issues. Acker thought that was pretty unusual (it is) and tried to see if any media would be interested in the story.
I can’t tell you why. As a journalist, I know that this is a pretty compelling premise for a human interest story (and it has a social media angle that you can sell to gray-haired management as a way to rope in the hip youngs).
I suppose if I were still a daily journalist covering politics and health care (as I was for many years), I would be a little overwhelmed by all the stories to tell about people impacted by Trumpcare, even right here in Michigan.
There are so many people who will be harmed by Trumpcare that it’s hard to get your head around it. There are the 23 million who will lose insurance under the last version scored by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (the Senate version is still under review).
But the Senate plan goes even further and decimates Medicaid, which serves 75 million people. It’s not just the expansion under Obamacare, mind you — Trumpcare goes after the program itself. Many people know that slashing Medicaid hurts low-income people. But Medicaid provides a range of services, including those for disabled people and nursing home care for seniors. That’s why you saw people in wheelchairs protesting the bill outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — where they were unceremoniously thrown out.
And there are millions upon millions more who will see their health costs soar — as Trumpcare will raise deductibles, eliminate mandated services (maternity, mental health, substance abuse care, etc.) and put caps on your coverage so insurance companies don’t have to pay anymore if your care costs too much.
If you’re starting to see a pattern that nothing Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail is in there, you are correct. If this is sounding like the bad old days before Obamacare when people went bankrupt for getting cancer, that’s also correct. But on top of that, Republicans want to kill Medicaid, which means that we’re not just going back to 2010. We’re going back to 1965 — only with skyrocketing health care costs to boot.
But to be honest, I’m not seeing a lot of these stories being told. To be sure, some are. Amy Lynn Smith has done a beautiful job chronicling people’s health care stories for years right here. Sarah Kliff has done the same for Vox and Jonathan Cohn has for Huffington Post. But cable news, local TV affiliates and newspapers — which can’t seem to get enough of stories about Trump supporters who still love the president no matter what — are largely ignoring the personal stories of tens of millions of people who will be hurt by Trumpcare.
I expect that this will change if Trumpcare becomes law and more journalists see their grandmothers tossed out of nursing homes, their best friend who can’t get opioid addiction treatment or their newly retired uncle unable to afford insurance.
But that’s no excuse for failing to cover the impact of massive legislation before it’s passed. And when you’re talking about a bill that affects tens of millions of people, I can almost guarantee that your audience would watch, read and react to these stories — which is exactly what outlets should want.