Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) represent a diverse group of people with significant personal care and medical needs, often relying on Medicaid and other federal healthcare services to survive. Changes to Medicaid could have serious implications on the lives of this population. Because of these high stakes, it is crucial individuals with IDD are represented in federal health care reform discussions. Media representation may be an indicator of the level of inclusion individuals with IDD are receiving in the federal health care reform discussions. The Center for Epidemiological Research for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (CERIIDD) analyzed three major political news outlets reporting on the topic to understand this population’s inclusion in health care reform discussions.


CERIIDD chose three popular political reporting news outlets, Politico, The Hill, and Roll Call to conduct the analysis. For each of the news outlet, researchers ran a query for articles relating to “Obamacare” from January 20th, 2017 to June 30th, 2017. These articles represent the total sample number (n=7213) (see Figure 1). Additional queries for “Obamacare opioid” and “Obamacare developmental disabilities” were conducted as subsamples to determine the frequency of political media representation. These two populations were selected for the analysis because they may be significantly impacted by federal Medicaid reform.

Results & Discussion

This study represents data from three federally-focused and highly-read political publications. Results seem to indicate that individuals with IDD are often left underrepresented in health care reporting. Without their inclusion in the federal health care discussion, the current and future needs of individuals with IDD may unintentionally go unmet.

Data Brief: Health Care Political Reporting and Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (pdf)