Today is Medicaid’s (and Medicare’s) 50th anniversary, and because it provides quality, affordable coverage for nearly 32 million children and is the largest single federal programmatic investment in kids, Medicaid’s anniversary is important for kids. So I wondered if children played an important role in the news coverage of Medicaid’s anniversary. Much to my surprise, they did – sort of.

Only six newspaper articles or editorials (I didn’t count letters to the editor) published during the week leading up to the anniversary touched significantly. I was expecting more coverage, frankly, but I was pleasantly surprised at the degree to which coverage acknowledged Medicaid’s importance for kids.

The image below illustrates the frequency with which words appeared in those six items, with the most frequently used words appearing larger. As you can see, “children” did pretty well. Appearing eight times throughout the coverage, its frequency compared to words like “Republican” and higher than words like “Congress.” And with two appearances, “baby” bolstered the tally a bit.

Medicaid Cloud

Does this mean news media consistently recognize the importance of federal investments in children? Nope. In fact, the largest words in the cloud – “law,” “cost,” “program,” and others – underscore how process-focused even good news coverage can be.

But it’s encouraging to see that, at least by the numbers, journalists recognized that you can’t write a story about Medicaid without at least mentioning children.

By the Numbers: Kids and News Coverage of Medicaid’s 50th  #KeepingUShealthy #InvestInKids
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Want to learn more? First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. Read more about our work on child health.

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