I just came across an interesting article by Michelle Swenson at the Health Blog. The gist of the article is that the two major Colorado newspapers – the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post – consistently presented a skewed view of the health care reform proposals that were evaluated over the last year by the Colorado Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform. It seems that neither newspaper presented unbiased, factual information about the Colorado Health Services Single Payer proposal. Letters to the editor supporting the single payer system were ignored, and both newspapers tended to publish articles and editorials in support of the “free market” health care reform plans (ie, plans that call for major involvement by the health insurance industry in reforming the Colorado health care system)
Hmmm. Newspapers – and indeed just about any media outlet – survive because of corporate advertising. If subscription fees were the only source of revenue for newspapers, nobody would be able to afford the paper. The health care industry – including big pharma, health care providers, and health insurance carriers – is a huge player in the advertising world, and wields significant economic clout. Single payer proposals for health care reform, both in Colorado and nationwide, generally don’t involve for-profit companies. They tend to call on the government to be the single-payer, and some form of taxation to fund the system. Such a system would probably benefit the greatest number of people, but there’s not a lot of money in it for the big players in the current health care industry. And there’s not much incentive for media outlets – who depend on advertising revenue – to come out in favor of health care reforms that would cripple the current “free market” health care players.
So while it’s disappointing to read Ms. Swenson’s article about the bias that the Colorado papers showed against the single payer proposal, it’s not really surprising.