Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, the Republican-controlled Congress has been wrestling with a ‘repeal-and-replace’ strategy for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with little success. While the U.S. House of Representatives quickly drafted and passed a bill, the process in the Senate has been, as expected, a far more difficult and protracted effort.
According to the National Health Expenditure Accounts (NHEA), health care makes up approximately 17% of the American economy. With significant money and millions of lives on the line, changes to the system create political battle lines not just across party lines, but within them as well. As we have seen this summer, Democrats are united in opposition to any of the current Obamacare replacement ideas. However, it is within the Senate Republican Conference that the true debate is happening with opposition from both the conservative wing, whose members are looking for complete repeal, as well as from the moderate bloc.
Keeping Track of the Process
With strategies, key players and bill details changing multiple times per day, it is extremely difficult to keep track of the information inundating traditional and non-traditional media outlets. The ability to quickly uncover information and shape the message is crucial to running a successful legislative or political advocacy campaign. When dozens of members of Congress – both in the House and the Senate, policy experts and political commentators are discussing health care, it’s not enough just to know what they’ve said. The ability to quickly track, catalog, transcribe and share their opinion is essential to understanding the message and goals of both your allies and opponents.
More than Monitoring
New tools utilizing the power of artificial intelligence allow these insights to be garnered more quickly and more comprehensively than ever before. For example, Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) hosted a morning radio show discussing the health care debate. During his monologue, Rep. Farenthold said he would like to invite some of his Senate Republican colleagues out back to handle the issue “Aaron Burr style.” By using a simple keyword search or predefined query in the Veritone Platform, Rep. Farenthold’s commentary on talk radio was just a click away. While his comments set off a flurry of activity across social and traditional media outlets, those utilizing AI could easily track the conversation in near real-time—shaping the message to their advantage—despite the vast amount of information generated in today’s 24/7 news cycle.
Into the Fall
Few issues in American politics have caused as much hand-wringing and engagement at the local, state and federal level, as those concerning entitlements. The effort to repeal and replace Obamacare has so far been a case-study in this dynamic. As it stands now, it does not appear likely that the United States Senate will be able to craft a bill and move it forward for passage before Congress goes into its August recess. Lobbying and jockeying for an edge will continue as members of both houses go back to their states and districts, where they will personally face constituents – creating new opportunities and a further necessity to ensure that their campaign is utilizing every tool at its disposal to find out who is saying what, to whom, and what it all means for the larger debate.