Government Vs. Insurance: Who’s The Bad Guy?
Depending on which ads one watches, the enemy of American health care is either the federal government or insurance companies, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Club for Growth, a conservative group, warns in a $1.2 million advertising campaign that "Life-and-death decisions should be made by patients and doctors, not politicians and bureaucrats," while the liberal group MoveOn.org, has distributed footage of "sharks slithering through the water" as a narrator describes health insurance companies. "The same old Washington politics of 'find an enemy and go to war' is a major step backward, not a step forward," said Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry group.
While MoveOn, the Obama administration, which points to industry "abuses" and "record profits" and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who called the companies "villains," attack health insurers, the industry is quietly fighting back, the Associated Press/Durango Herald reports. "Industry lobbyists are using influential allies, a thick wallet and a strategy of avoiding blatant confrontation to block or weaken the proposal [for a public health insurance plan which they and Republicans oppose], which Democrats say would drive down costs by offering an alternative to private companies." Though some insurers and Republicans who oppose the overhaul plans say insurers should be more aggressive, the industry has remained outwardly supportive of "vaguely described bipartisan" reform (Fram, 8/9).
The drug industry, by contrast, plans to spend up to $150 million to television advertising in support of White House reform ideas, the New York Times reports. The White House and the pharmaceutical lobby had earlier agreed to an industry contribution of $80 billion in savings over ten years, but House Democrats passing legislation have said they aren't bound by the agreement. Drug makers, meanwhile, asked the White House to publicly reiterate that the industries contribution would not top $80 billion (Kirkpatrick, 8/10).
But the television market with the most active advertising is home to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Las Vegas Sun reports. Las Vegas commercials have both sought to encourage the leading Senator, but a fair share have also urged viewers to call Reid's office to express their opposition to proposals working their way through Congress. For example, "[a]n ad from Patients First, a project of the conservative Americans for Prosperity, uses alarming warnings that have become increasingly common from those opposed to health care reform 'Do you trust Washington with your life?'" (Mascaro, 8/9).