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Notes

Here’s How Teamwork Produced An Effective Response To A ‘False’ Tweet #

After we reported that there is “no guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions” in the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, this tweet popped up from @BillCassidy:

@NPR FALSE. Under the bill, states must ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions have access to adequate & affordable insurance.

Steve Mullis suggested NPR should respond. Alison Kodjak, whose story the senator was questioning, and her editors (Gisele Grayson, Nancy Shute, Joe Neel) got to work. The goal would be to respond calmly. The forum would be Twitter, where the senator made his charge. The response and how we got there, is worth revisiting.

Some key points:

- We followed our mantra: “Stand with the Facts.”

- It was known that we might decide not to go ahead if we couldn’t strike the right tone — and that would be OK.

- The teams that knew what to do, from the best way to engage to the best way to explain the story, led the process.

- We moved quickly, but we didn’t hurry. Everyone who needed to weigh in did, but no one held up the process.

You can see the result here.

Or, read through how tweets rolled out:

- Sen @BillCassidy called our reading of his health care bill on pre-existing conditions false. Here’s how we read it: http://n.pr/2fAWevD

- Prior to ACA, insurers routinely excluded care for cancer or mental health or made the coverage so expensive that it was out of reach

- Current law (ACA) guarantees coverage for 10 “essential health benefits”—in every exchange policy in every state http://bit.ly/2wGO8qS

- Those EHBs are central to pre-existing condition protections because they define what an insurance policy is required to cover

- #GrahamCassidy allows states to opt out of EHBs. That cld mean a person with diabetes can be charged extra for a plan with Rx drug coverage

- Allowing states to opt out of EHBs under #GrahamCassidy cld also mean a person w/ depression may not find a plan with mental health coverage

- Sen. @BillCassidy says his bill ensures that people with pre-existing conditions have access to “adequate & affordable” coverage

- With no EHB requirements and no subsidies, “adequate” and “affordable” is left up to states and does not guarantee coverage

Thanks to all involved in crafting this response.

(“Memmos;” Sept. 25, 2017)

Notes

Update: Guidance On Immigration #

It’s been three years since we issued guidance on the language to use and avoid when reporting about illegal immigration.

Since then, a couple references have worked their way into common usage and no longer seem to fall into the category of loaded language.

Here, then, is updated guidance:

- The debate is still about “illegal immigration” and what to do about it. “Illegal immigration” remains an acceptable term when we’re reporting about the issue.

- When we’re reporting about the people at the center of this story, it’s still best practice to begin with action words, rather than labels. Two examples: They are “in the country illegally” or have “entered the country illegally.”

- In subsequent references, we now think it’s OK to mix in the phrases “undocumented immigrants” and “unauthorized immigrants.” They are now in common usage. And, unlike the label “illegal immigrants,” they are not phrases sometimes used to hurt others. (Our approach on this language is similar to what we’ve said about the debate over health care – it is best practice to first refer to the law Republicans want to replace as the “Affordable Care Act”. Then it’s OK to say “Obamacare.”)

- “Undocumented” is also OK in headlines.

For an example of how to handle immigration language, see John Burnett’s report on “Riding With ICE: ‘We’re Trying To Do The Right Thing.’

(“Memmos;” July 25, 2017)

 

Notes

With Health Care In The News, Some Language Guidance #

As we continue to cover the health care debate, each of our stories and interviews needs to make some things clear and we need to continue to be careful about some language.

For starters, when referring to the law enacted during the Obama administration, it is best to use “Affordable Care Act” on first reference before explaining that it’s also known as Obamacare. A recent survey (Feb 2017) showed that a third of the public thought the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare were two different things (17 percent) or didn’t know if they were the same or different (18 percent).

While it’s OK to say the law is also known as Obamacare, we should be sparing in our use of the Obamacare label in subsequent references. It has swung from being a politically loaded word used by the law’s opponents, to a label embraced by the Obama administration and now back to a politically loaded word.

Meanwhile, the package unveiled this week can be summed up as “the Republican proposal, called the American Health Care Act.”

We can’t get tied up in initialisms, of course. Few will understand if we go on to refer to the Obama-era law as the ACA and the Republican proposal as the AHCA. “The Republican plan” is the easiest subsequent reference.

As during debates in earlier years, we should steer clear of the word “reform” when reporting about the proposal. One person’s reform is another person’s destruction. We settled on “overhaul” as a worthy substitute in the past. Suggestions are welcome for other alternatives.

Contributing: Joe Neel

(“Memmos;” March 7, 2017)