How the Obamacare Team is looking to the Future

For the past several months the Obamacare Team has been working on a massive data-collection project. The goal of the endeavor is to compile every state-level media piece discussing health reform in the month of August 2009. These articles are to be processed via automated content analysis to produce meaningful summaries of media coverage during this important part of the saga that was passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We are making slow but steady progress with this endeavor, and plan to have it completed by the end of Christmas break.

In the meantime, however, our team has already laid the groundwork to use this data to investigate areas of interest to us.

For instance, our very own Joanna Borman is planning on potentially spending time next semester investigating connections between the news media data we are collecting and Senate election results for 2010. Her goal is to determine if state media coverage prefaced any interesting statewide election results, particularly given the rise of the Tea Party movement around this time.

Team member Will Evans, on the other hand, has made plans to potentially study ties between state media coverage and newspaper readership/issue framing. His goal with this project is to identify trends in the data that may be caused by who is reading what sources of news and how key issues are framed in articles discussing Obamacare.

I myself plan on spending a significant amount of time next semester gathering data on key policy outcomes and healthcare indicators to compare against media coverage and state-level public opinion of Obamacare. Policy outcomes includes state decisions on whether or not to expand Medicaid, join the multitude of lawsuits against the ACA, set up their own insurance exchange, and much more. These factors are important because they have the potential to significantly influence how citizens perceive and react to the health reform law. In terms of healthcare indicators, I want to collect data on various measures of the quality and cost of medical care within states, as well as how healthy states’ populations are. I then hope to run these data against state media coverage to see if there is some connection between media coverage and the quality of healthcare in a state.

While each member of the team has made tentative plans for what to study next semester, the reality is that these plans are not set in stone. We understand that we will have to react and adapt to obstacles that arise in data collection and analysis. Yet, on the whole, the descriptions above describe where our team wishes to go in the spring, and we are excited to get started.