For the second Friday in a row I attended a protest against the (potentially no longer) impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Since our new president has taken office, there has been, by my humble account, an uptick in political action, including marches, demonstrations and protests. As such, the Missourian (and so many other outlets) have been inundated with stories about protests. It’s easy for these stories to all begin running together.
After talking with my editor, it was decided that covering the protest as another protest story wouldn’t necessarily be in anyone’s best interest. So, being knee deep in ACA research for a handful of other stories, I spent the morning leading up to the protest putting together the foundation of the story, which included some detailed and, I think, much needed information about what had actually happened so far in terms of the ACA repeal (not much). I also worked to gather some numbers on what sort of impact the ACA has had in Missouri and what the new state budget might mean for the heavily subsidized program.
Once I got to the protest in the afternoon, I noticed that many of the participants were the same people from the event the week before (including at least one speaker). I also didn’t want to simply find quotes to fill in the story I’d already started building, though, more or less, that’s what happened. A problem I ran into, though, was that many of those present were over 65 and no longer participating in the relevant medicaid exchange. The first few people I spoke to were most interested in protecting the “right” to health insurance for others. But, after chatting with a few people, I came across some folks who had actually had been affected by the ACA, whether they were on it, or whether a family member of their’s couldn’t afford it.
Generally speaking, it was a very similar experience to the one the week before. It was, however, much nice to go into the event prepared, with some planned questions and a bit firmer grasp on the topic at hand (obviously). It helped me, I believe, ask some much more interesting questions and dig down to a more satisfying story.