We examine the Medicare Catastrophic Extension Act of 1988, which was repealed in 1989, finding a broad range of messages on this controversial legislation in the press. The time needed to craft compromise legislation in response to objections to the original bill was cut short by the impending deadline for payments by the elderly, January 1990. Outright repeal rather than modification was the result. Our study confirms earlier studies, which show that trends of opinionin this case that of senior citizens over 65 years of agecould be forecast from mass media stories, and is consistent with the notion that legislation occurs in a climate shaped by the media. In addition to being a key conduit for passing information and pressures to the public and lawmakers, the media could also serve to indicate the impact of messages passed through other channels, such as direct mailings.

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