The day after the AP story ran, a second piece moved on its wires, and unfortunately its explanation of the proposed change wasn’t much clearer than the first. This story, however, brought a real live Medicare beneficiary into the coverage. It showed how a retired city worker in Albuquerque, who is not rich, would be affected by Obama’s plan. Tricia Neuman, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the AP: “Over time the higher premiums will affect people who by today’s standards are considered middle-income. At some point, it raises questions about whether [Medicare] premiums will continue to be affordable.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. That’s the kind of context the story needs.

How the AP covers Medicare is important, since the wire service may be the only way people in places like Lincoln, NE or Everett, WA. get the dope on what the politicians are considering for them. We hope AP editors and reporters take the extra steps to make their stories crystal clear and connect the dots, both regarding Medicare proposals and regarding others changes in other programs that will affect their readers’ pocketbooks and lives.

The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow @USProjectCJR for more posts from this author and the rest of the United States Project team. And follow @Trudy_Lieberman.


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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.