ACA gets Hollywood rewrite

A $500,000 California Endowment grant will help television writers and producers incorporate Affordable Care Act (ACA) information into their scripts, targeting young, healthy Hispanics and other key demographics whose enrollment is crucial to healthcare reform's success, according to ABC News.

The University of Southern California's Norman Lear Center's Hollywood Health & Society program received the 18-month grant, which will brief television show staff and track health overhaul-related scenarios on prime-time and Spanish-language television, ABC News reports. However, writers and producers are alone in control of what they create and have yet to write plot lines or target specific shows. 

"We know from research that when people watch entertainment television, even if they know it's fiction, they tend to believe that the factual stuff is actually factual," Martin Kaplan, founding director of the Norman Lear Center, said in the article.

California Endowment, a group that has promoted the law at great expense, hopes the grant will help it connect with the roughly 16 percent of uninsured Americans, many of whom aren't informed about the healthcare reform law. But Republican strategists say the ACA references in television shows will be seen as a political ploy and partisan message, ABC News reports.

This isn't the first time the government turned to Hollywood to help promote ACA. In June, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services went to celebrities who were personal or political friends of President Barack Obama--including Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, Jay-Z and Beyonce--to work on healthcare reform ads, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Experts caution portrayal of ACA should be accurate and address the pros and the cons related to the outcome of the law. "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," said law supporter Arthur Caplan, head of the division of medical ethics at NYU's Langone Medical Center, as reported by ABC News. 

Critics of the law will be closely watching to see if "Hollywood might be airbrushing the president's core program, because they are close to the Democrats," Caplan said.

To learn more:
- here's the ABC News article