To Sell Plan, White House Officials Focus On Four Key Aspects Of Health Reform
White House officials eager to sell the most popular aspects of the health reform law are focusing on four areas to gain votes and popularity for key lawmakers ahead of November's midterm elections.
Politico: "Top administration officials, who meet regularly with outside special interest groups to coordinate the public relations effort, have so far focused on expediting and amplifying four key areas of the new law: expanding coverage to young adults, covering sick people with pre-existing conditions or high medical costs, providing tax breaks to small businesses and helping a select group of seniors pay for prescription drugs." Politico reports that in the case of expanding coverage to young adults, the administration cut short the time period when the public is allowed to weigh in on the debate. "In another, it used taxpayer money to alert small businesses that they will get a break on this year's taxes. Both are perfectly legal but also politically beneficial." Officials, however, say there is no correlation between its push and the congressional elections.
"Republicans, meanwhile, have hammered home that health reform is unaffordable and bad for business, pushing stories that show companies on the brink of dropping insurance or announcing layoffs in the reform law's aftermath. They're promising to repeal the legislation and replace it with smaller, targeted reforms" (Haberkorn and Kliff, 5/18).
The Hill: The White House is being aggressive in its approach because it hasn't seen a bounce in popularity in polls. "The administration's sales strategy seeks to highlight 'early deliverables' in the law that will benefit voters and their families before the midterm elections. The pitch includes a more forceful approach with the press. Officials have called reporters at home after hours to ensure that their message is picked up. ... The aggressive push is seen as crucial to helping vulnerable lawmakers get reelected." Administration officials are also busy trying to push the law with press conferences like one last week that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held on health care fraud with Attorney General Eric Holder. But, one of the hardest sells could have to do with setting up "high-risk pools for sick people who can't find affordable insurance. The health reform law set aside $5 billion for the policy, much less than what experts agree is needed to carry the policy until 2014." But the Republican strategy to repeal, some polls say, "has eroded as more voters become aware of specific provisions they support" (Pecquet, 5/18).