Jul
28
2009

Doctors, media critics demand broader TV debate on healthcare

Between noon and 1 pm EST, the national media watch group FAIR and local healthcare advocacy groups will deliver a petition signed by over 12,000 people demanding that the TV networks include the single-payer proposal in their coverage of the national healthcare debate. The petition's signatories include Obama's longtime physician, Dr. David Scheiner; filmmaker Michael Moore; former MSNBC host Phil Donahue; actors Mike Farrell, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon; and doctors Quentin Young, Stephanie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein of Physicians for a National Health Program.

The petition will be presented to a representative of ABC News, which disinvited Dr. Scheiner from its recent forum on healthcare reform, where he'd been planning to ask Obama a question about single-payer.

FAIR, Physicians for a National Health Program, Healthcare Now!, the Private Health Insurance Must Go Coalition, Code Pink and the Raging Grannies are taking part in the petition delivery. In addition to the petition, the groups will be presenting a giant prescription--for a broader healthcare debate--to a representative of ABC News at the network's NYC headquarters at 77 West 66th Street.

FAIR communications director Isabel Macdonald commented, "When 59 percent of the public and an equal percentage of physicians say they want a Medicare-for-all type of plan, and that perspective has not been covered at all this year on a major TV network like ABC, one has to wonder what kind of journalism that is."

FAIR's petition, which is available at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/592/t/9039/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1993 , reads as follows:

Many experts see single-payer national health insurance as the most sensible solution to expand coverage to the uninsured and to reduce costs.

This proposal polls well with the public, who preferred it two-to-one over a privatized system in a recent survey (New York Times/CBS, 1/11-15/09). It is also preferred by 59 percent of physicians, according to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (4/1/08).

Yet a recent study by FAIR found that of hundreds of stories about health care in major outlets earlier this year, only five stories included the views of advocates of single-payer--none of which appeared on the television networks.

The insurance lobbies and many politicians may not want to talk about single-payer. But that makes it all the more important that the media do.

Please cover single-payer healthcare proposals, and stop silencing their advocates.