The Corner

USC Gets a Grant to Convince Hollywood to Push Obamacare

The California Endowment has awarded a $500,000 grant to the Norman Lear Center, a public-policy organization at the University of Southern California that focuses on entertainment, to make sure that television producers and their staffs fully understand the new health-care-reform law, and can work in pro-Obamacare storylines. The Endowment, a private foundation that has spent millions promoting the president’s law, is hoping its efforts will nudge primetime audiences to enroll in the new health-care law, which they consider misunderstood. “We don’t believe the government alone can break through with those facts,” a California Endowment vice president said.

The grant’s impact could be quite significant because so many Americans watch TV, said Martin Kaplan, the USC professor who received the grant. He argued that Americans have refrained from enrolling because of confusion or unawareness, and hopes that fictional TV shows could help rectify that.

“We know from research that when people watch entertainment television, even if they know it’s fiction, they tend to believe that the factual stuff is actually factual,” he explained. With the grant, the Lear Center’s Hollywood Health & Society program will host host briefings for television producers and writers to provide help weaving in depictions of the enrollment process and the law. That said, Arthur Caplan, head of medical ethics at New York University​, told the AP that in order to portray the law credibly, Hollywood should include “drawbacks and glitches and discontent” in its depictions of the law.

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