June 30, 2009

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Basing Reform on What It’s Really Like In Health Care

According to The Huffington Post: “As the fight over health care reform heats up, the teevee airwaves have become one of the battlegrounds. And the rivalry between pro-reform Health Care For America Now (HCAN) and pro-something-other-than-reform Conservatives For Patient Rights (CPR) is aflame! And aflame with persnicketyness!” And CPR is furious about an ad from HCAN that launches a personal attack on their chairman Rick Scott, former CEO of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). In a nutshell, the ad claims that Scott was “the multimillionaire hospital president” of HCA when the company was convicted of 14 felony counts of fraud—and that he opposes health care reform because he and his millionaire friends are making millions off the broken system we have now. In a blustering response, CPR claimed that Comcast had determined the ad was misleading and pulled it off the air.

But is there any truth to this claim? Seems not! The Huffington Post contacted Jacki Schechner, national communications director of HCNA, and it turns out the ad was not pulled. In a statement, Sena Fitzmaurice, Comcast’s executive director for corporate communications and government affairs, said: “To clarify—Comcast has not pulled any ads produced by Health Care for America Now (HCAN) off our systems. The media buy for the ad in question expired on May 13. Comcast has asked HCAN to include a clarification in future versions of the ad.”1

Lest any of you think this is nonsense, remember the “Harry and Louise” ads that helped defeat the Clinton health reform efforts! And, by the way, “Harry and Louise” have returned, this time favoring health care reform, but not necessarily Obama’s plan. Goldsteen and colleagues studied the impact of Harry and Louise. Ad campaigns that marry political interest groups and commercial advertisers for the purpose of demobilizing public support for health policy initiatives are on the rise—and this time we cannot afford to allow special interests to usurp public good.3

So, speak up, speak out, tell everyone what it’s really like in health care today: the insider’s perspective—not the payer’s perspective or the conservative’s perspective or the liberal’s perspective.

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