About Fathers

Perspectives on fathers and their children.

Michelle Obama's Op-Ed on Obamacare Pops Up All Over

The First Lady appeals to parents.

Yesterday, I got an email from the parenting website Babble proudly alerting me to an Op-Ed it was running by First Lady Michelle Obama. In the piece, she begins by recalling an episode a dozen years ago when her daughter Sasha woke up sick and their pediatrician sent them to the emergency room, suspecting she had meningitis. He was right; she did.

She and Barack were lucky, she writes, because although they were still paying off their student loans, they had health insurance. "Sadly, too many families with medical crises like ours aren’t so fortunate. Week after week, my husband and I hear from mothers whose children have serious illnesses, or whose babies were born prematurely, requiring months or years of special care.

"As a result, these kids have blown through their lifetime caps by the time they reach elementary school," she writes. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, such caps will no longer be legal, she writes.

There are no surprises here; this meshes neatly with the rest of the White House campaign to turn around public opinion on the new health care law after its disastrous website failure. The only surprise is that this piece turned up in many other places—in slightly different forms.

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In Yahoo, for example, the incident with Sasha is in the second paragraph, not the first. But the two versions contain exactly the same messages. Examiner.com credited Babble but republished the entire Op-Ed, which is normally not a nice thing to do. And the First Lady herself did the video version, telling the same story about Sasha in an interview on the Yolanda Adams show.

There is nothing wrong with Michelle Obama—or her staff writers—joining the campaign to get Americans enthused about the new health-care law, but it's always a little disconcerting when a story like this comes out on the Web, but not in the major news outlets. It's a good story. If they hadn't had insurance, Sasha's meningitis would have bankrupted them.

So why dribble it out here and there on the Web? Why not tell the rest of the news outlets, too?

 

Journalist Paul Raeburn is the author of Do Fathers Matter? to be published by Scientific America/FSG in June, 2014. He is also the author of the Fathers and Families blog.

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