No Recess Rest In Health Reform Ad Wars
Major groups are promising that the August recess will be filled with advertising wars trying to manage the message of the health care reform debate, Politico reports.
"America's Health Insurance Plans is sinking millions of dollars into a recess advertising blitz defending itself, as Democrats and the White House turn the industry's practices into a rallying call for reform. 'That type of rhetoric is not productive,' said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for (America's Health Insurance Plans). 'We have proposed many of the insurance market reforms and consumer protections that people are talking about.'"
In the last health overhaul battle, "industry stakeholders came out squarely against reform" and invested heavily in ads to kill it. "This year, many big players are trying to avoid getting tagged as the group that killed reform. So their ads - at least for now - are generally supportive of the reform effort but hazy on their positions on the exact language of the House and Senate proposals. ... Of the ads that have aired, $17.3 million have been in favor of Obama's reform plans. About $8 million has been spent on commercials opposing it." In total, $51 million has been spent on ads since Obama took office.
About $22.5 million has been "pro-reform but neutral on the details. PhRMA, the trade association of pharmaceutical makers, has spent the most, at $17 million. The final $3.5 million in advocacy has been spent by diabetes, autism and other specialized health interests that also are urging reform without getting specific about the legislation" (Cummings, 8/4).
Roll Call: "New coalitions are also beginning to bud, one health care lobbyist said, among insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms, hospitals and medical societies beyond their typical trade groups. 'These will go live in the August recess,' the lobbyist said. Health care lobbyists say they aren't surprised that the health insurance industry is opting against going overtly negative, given that its nemesis, the public option, is likely to be nixed in the final package." Other groups are planning support or their own advertising during the recess including the National Retail Federation, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the National Association of Manufacturers and the AARP (Ackley and Palmer, 8/4).
Politicians are getting in on the ad blitz too, The New York Times Caucus blog reports: "House Minority Leader John Boehner released a new Web advertisement poking fun at President Obama's own lobbying efforts on Monday, interspersing the 'I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV' ads from some years ago with some of the president's recent comments on the health care system."
"Democrats quickly shot back at Mr. Boehner's ad. 'John Boehner isn't an insurance company executive, but he sure plays one in the U.S. House of Representatives. That's the only explanation for admittedly working to "kill" health insurance reform while premiums for the average American family are rising three times faster than their wages, while small businesses are choosing between offering coverage and creating jobs, and when controlling runaway health care costs is necessary to get the economy fully back on track,' said Hari Sevugan, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee" (Becker, 8/3).