Hollywood to Write Obamacare Into Prime Time

Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 03:42 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Hollywood is the latest soldier joining the ranks of those trying to stem the tide of Obamacare's disastrous launch.

The California Endowment, a private health foundation with a mission to expand affordable, quality healthcare to underserved individuals and communities, has given a $500,000, 18-month grant to the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California, Fox News reports.

The grant is intended to educate viewers about Obamacare.

The foundation wants TV writers and producers to weave the Affordable Care Act into plot lines of prime-time shows that target the young and healthy, Hispanics, and other key demographic groups needed to make Obamacare a success, Fox News reports. Specific shows have not been targeted.

Enlisting the help of Hollywood A-listers has long been on the administration’s radar to promote the president’s signature legislation.

Over the summer, the White House courted artists, entertainers, and Hollywood executives in an effort to win their support to promote the law. Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and a slew of other celebrities attended a July meeting in the Roosevelt Room.

Oprah Winfrey, arguably Obama's biggest celebrity supporter, declined the president's invitation. She reportedly felt slighted by the administration after dutifully campaigning for Obama in two elections. 

The grant will be used by the Norman Lear Center's Hollywood Health & Society program to inform television staff about the law and its depiction on prime-time and Spanish-language television.

To maintain credibility, Hollywood needs to present an honest representation of Obamacare, which requires all Americans to carry health insurance, said Arthur Caplan, head of the division of bioethics at New York University.

"If there are drawbacks and glitches and discontent, that should be part of the presentations," Caplan told Fox News.

"It should not be a place to propagandize; it should be a place to have honest, open discussion, wrinkles and all, flaws and all, on health reform," he said. Critics of the law will be closely watching to see whether "Hollywood might be airbrushing the president's core program because they are close to the Democrats."

Republican strategist Jonathan Wilcox doesn't think beaming Obamacare into living rooms during prime time will go very far in swaying public opinion.

"This is an attempt to use entertainment pop culture to fix a political challenge," he cautioned. "It will be received as a partisan political message, no matter how cleverly it's delivered."

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