The past few months have been rife with intense debate over our nation’s budget and the debt ceiling. Predictably, entitlement programs, especially Medicaid, have been on the chopping block in these conversations. While legislators were proposing plans that would put the health of children, people living with disabilities, and seniors at risk, advocates across the country have organized to send a clear message: Medicaid matters.

Advocates have sent this message and garnered vital media attention by holding events, writing letters to the editor and op-eds, contacting their representatives, and most importantly, sharing the stories of the people in their communities whose lives would be at stake without Medicaid. Here are just a few success stories of advocates achieving positive media coverage for Medicaid:

  • Highlighting stories of people whose lives have been improved by Medicaid: Health Care for All Massachusetts recently held a rally outside of Senator Scott Brown’s Boston office. Medicaid recipients provided moving testimonials about how the program has supported their families during difficult times and has helped them live independent lives. They urged Senator Brown to put his constituents above party politics and to stand up for Medicaid.
  • Finding a creative news hook: After Paul Ryan was spotted sipping a $350 bottle of wine, Citizen Action of Wisconsin capitalized on the news coverage to highlight his hypocrisy. They held an impromptu wine tasting outside of Ryan’s office in Racine, WI to protest the contrast of the massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare in his plan and the lavishness of his personal spending. Their efforts gained national attention when it was the center-piece of a Mother Jones blog post .
  • Partnering with and featuring the voices of other stakeholders: Rhode Island KIDS COUNT shared their research with Dr. Maggie Kozel, a Rhode Island pediatrician, adding statistical weight to her personal experiences with Medicaid and CHIP. In an opinion piece on Huffington Post, Dr. Kozel argued that cuts to Medicaid are a misguided and alarming attempt to cut the budget and would result in harm to children and no savings.
  • Writing op-eds: Sara Gagne-Holmes from Maine Equal Justice Center thanked the state’s delegation for promising to protect Medicaid in an op-ed to the Bangor Daily News. She reminded Mainers that their federal delegation would need continued support in their efforts to defend vulnerable people reliant on Medicaid to live independent, healthy lives.
  • Encouraging legislators to step up their support for Medicaid: Many elected officials have stood up for Medicaid, knowing how much the program improves life for many of their constituents. Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative approached Chris VanHollen about writing an op-ed in support of Medicaid. His strong piece was published the Baltimore Sun.

The above are robust examples of interacting with mediato share how vital Medicaid is to the health and prosperity of our communities. As the budget frenzy reaches its height, there is still more work to do to keep this message at the forefront and protect Medicaid and the health of children, people with disabilities and seniors who need long-term care.

— Christine Lindberg, communications associate