Health Reform Characters With A Different Message
You might remember them from ads that ran in 1993 and 1994 to scuttle the Clinton health reform movement.
Harry and Louise, a fictional suburban middle-age couple, sat around the kitchen table and stoked fears that a government-created health plan would put the decisions about health care in the hands of bureaucrats.
Now Harry and Louise have returned with a new campaign and message that’s done a 180. A little older, once again sitting around the table, the fictional characters are now supporting an overhaul of the medical system.
Harry: “Looks like we may get health care reform”
Louise: “It’s about time because every day more and more people are finding they can’t afford health care.”
Harry: “Or they’re losing coverage”
Louise: “We need good coverage that people can afford coverage they can get…”
Harry: “Even if they have a pre-existing condition
Louise: “And coverage they can keep if they change jobs …”
Harry: “…or lose their jobs. Sounds simple enough.”
Louise: “A little more cooperation and a little less politics and we can get the job done this time.”
The $4 million ad campaign has been paid for by the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America/ Families USA.
Why the Change?
Why the change in message this time around?
The 1993-94 ads were sponsored by the health insurance industry and intended to stoke fears about socialized medicine and government choosing our health care.
Charles N. Kahn oversaw the original campaign. He was executive vice president of the trade group, Health Insurance Association of America, now America’s Health Insurance Plans, reports the New York Times.
This time around the ads are sponsored by a trade group representing drug companies, and the actors Harry Johnson and Louise Claire Clark are empathetic toward mounting unemployment and the rising cost of health insurance.
PhRma or Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the sponsor of the new spot, last month pledged $80 billion in savings to lower drug prices.
President of the group, Bill Tauzin urges compromise. “Middle-class people like Harry and Louise are not going to be living in a successful society if we don’t do something about it” he says to the Times.
Families USA, a nonprofit and non-partisan group also behind the campaign, has doctors, a Common Cause representative as well as someone from Blue Cross, Blue Shield on its board.
Calling itself a Voice for Health Care Consumers, the ads should begin airing on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and the Sunday talk shows.
President Obama has vowed to bring health insurance to more than 46 million Americans who lack it with a $1 trillion reform over ten years.
While drug companies and doctors along with the insurance lobby were the leading obstacles to health care reform in 1993, on Thursday the American Medical Association endorsed the House version of healthcare form. The powerful lobbying arm has never previously endorsed reform.
The AMA supports what’s being called America’s Affordable Health Choices, which would create a marketplace for individuals and small employers to choose among private and public insurance. It would also slow the annual reductions to Medicare reimbursements to doctors.
According to a Gallup Poll released last month, Americans have the least confidence in health insurance companies and Republican leaders in Congress to fix the healthcare system. Americans polled have the most confidence in doctors, healthcare professors and researchers, hospitals and the president to lead reforms.
Sen. Ted Kennedy is missed in the Senate as it tangles over the legislation. Kennedy, 77, is battling brain cancer and has bill missing from Capitol Hill since April, opting to stay on Cape Cod undergoing new chemotherapy treatments.
His lifelong work on health care reform, and his ability to forge compromises across the aisle have been missed, according to lawmakers speaking to the New York Times, and the chairman seat of the health Education and Labor Committee work has been turned over to Sen. Christopher Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut. #