Thursday, August 19, 2010

Democrats Admit: Health Law IS Unpopular

Politico reports this afternoon on a new messaging effort by liberal groups (including AARP, SEIU, the AFL-CIO, and Families USA) in an attempt to bolster support for the President’s floundering flagship initiative – the health care law.  The full presentation is online, and contains the following nuggets (with my comments in bold italics):

The “Challenging Environment”

  • “Straightforward ‘policy’ defenses fail to be moving voters’ opinions about the law;”
  • “Women in particular are concerned that [the] health law will mean less provider availability – scarcity an issue;”
  • “Many don’t believe health reform will help the economy;”  [Confirmed this morning when the Congressional Budget Office estimated the law will kill 500,000 jobs]

Messaging Points

  • “Keep claims small and credible; don’t overpromise or ‘spin’ what the law delivers;”
  • “Use transition or bridge language…‘The law is not perfect, but it does good things and helps many people.  Now we’ll work to improve it.”  [House Democrats already voted to “improve” the law by repealing just one of its many onerous tax increases on small businesses.]
  • “Address provider scarcity and cost concerns.  Let the public know that…an unprecedented number of new health care providers are being trained.”  [The Medicare actuary confirmed this fear earlier this year – “supply constraints might initially interfere with providing the services desired by the additional 34 million insured persons.”]
  • “Tap into individual responsibility to blunt opposition to the mandate to have health insurance.”[Tens of thousands of Democrats in Missouri didn’t accept this argument, and voted for Proposition C this month, resulting in a 71% statewide vote against the individual mandate.]
  • “It is critical to reassure seniors that Medicare will not be cut.”  [The Medicare actuary notes that the health care law’s reductions in Medicare spending would make 15 percent of providers unprofitable within 10 years, “possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries.”]
  • “Don’t make grand claims about the law.  Use ‘improve it’ language.”




Do Not…

  • “Assume the public knows the health reform law passed or if they know it passed understand how it will affect them;”
  • “List benefits outside of any personal context;”
  • “Barrage voters with a long list of benefits;”
  • “Use complex language or insider jargon;”
  • “Use heated political rhetoric or congratulatory language;”
  • “Say the law will reduce costs and deficit.”  [What happened to the President’s statements that “our health care problem is our deficit problem” and “If any bill arrives from Congress that is not controlling costs, that’s not a bill I can support?”]

After spending several months arguing that support for the law was increasing, Democrats have finally bowed to the reality that the American people do not like the majority’s government takeover of health care.  The question is, when will the majority finally admit that the problem lies not with the messaging regarding the health care law, and rather with the message itself – that Democrats should repeal the law and replace it with reform that actually works.