Making the News... how a citizen journalist got traditional media to pay attention to MEDICAID Rules Change

On Sunday 3-9-08, McClatchy Washington Bureau published an article entitled White House, Congress to battle over Medicaid for the poor. The subject of the article -- how President Bush's rules change to Medicaid will effectively close hospitals in poor and rural areas, and thus often eliminate the one source of medical care for those least able to access it -- is not a new one to ePluribus Media readers.

But that's not our story here. Our story is about how the traditional media came to pay attention.

One of our contributors, TheFatLadySings, has diaried here about the issue, speaking from her own in-depth knowledge, Update: Stop Bush from Closing Our Public Hospitals. And, in an earlier commentary, she explained the Bush administration's maneuver and the details of its impact in her Action Diary: Bush Destroying Public Hospitals & Clinics Thru New Regs:

...the Bush Administration has been incrementally shredding our existing public health safety net...The most recent assault on our public health care infrastructure is escaping the notice of mainstream media and citizen journalists alike, probably because it is not easily explained. I am referring to a proposed set of arcane regulation changes by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) which, if enacted, will result in $15 billion dollars in cuts over five years to service providers.

But back to our story. How did McClatchy get wind of all the details, facts and figures as well as such good, ready quotations? TheFatLadySings tells us of her strategy. As she says, "I am a community organizer by trade."

So from her 2-24-08 commentary Is there a Lawyer in the House, we learn of her intent to travel over a thousand miles just to get to Washington DC and personally visit the offices of major media organizations in order to cajole some exposure for the story.

And she did just that. She spoke, just as the McClatchy Washington Bureau's banner proclaims, truth to power. She visited several news organizations, and Sunday, one of the best ran with the details.

In that McClatchy Washington Bureau article, reporter Barbara Barrett lead off:

WASHINGTON - As the last months of the Bush administration dwindle away, the White House might yet face another showdown with the Democratic Congress, this one over changes in Medicaid rules that could affect millions of low-income children and adults.

And then Barrett followed up with all those details and quotes from Hospital Administrators, politicians, health care officials.

TheFatLadySings had her facts straight.

Also, she had a little help. As TheFatLadySings told me: "I could never have done this without the help and support I've received from my colleagues at ePluribus Media, or without the support of my employers and of my colleagues in the health care field. A lot of people pitched in to make this happen."

And, in part due to TheFatLadySings' putting it on the media's radar, the story is gaining legs. So with the media on alert, when major hospital groups sued the Federal Government yesterday, the news outfits were primed to understand the significance. In fact, McClatchy Washington Bureau emailed TheFatLadySings a blurb about David Whitney's upcoming story, which would lead off with:

MEDICAID -- Four national hospital associations filed suit in federal court here to stop changes in Medicare financing that are intended to save billions in federal spending but which hospitals say will lead to longer lines and reduced services for the poor and uninsured. California would be one of the hardest hit states if the rule is allowed to take effect. According to a recent congressional study, the state could lose nearly $1 billion a year over the next five years, on top of other proposed Medicare cuts.

And the AP's Kevin Freking weighs in with Hospitals sue federal government to stop payment cuts

Groups representing most of the nation's hospitals announced Tuesday they were suing federal health officials to block the enactment of regulations that some hospitals claim threaten their survival.

So kudos to a citizen journalist, and now let's hope other news outlets give some bytes and some ink to the cutbacks.

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Congratulations to tfls! It's a very inspiring story.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead.

Because your work too, on the civilian contractors, the Defense Base Act as well as true numbers of the missing, murdered and kidnapped contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan is also one of these ... where work by citizen journalists is fuels, prods, and gets the news out there.

So kudos to you too!

Oops, wrong site for dittoheads. But I agree. All you guys are inspiring.

Congratulations to TheFatLadySings for her work and effort in pushing this important story out there.