Driving the Debate
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Health Care Priorities

May 16, 2013 3:27 pm ET
House Republicans are voting today for the 37th time to repeal the health care law -- despite the slowdown in growth of health care costs and nonpartisan findings that fully repealing Obamacare would mean many people paying more for health insurance (see Congressional Budget Office report). Here's how to talk about what Congress should be doing instead: implementing the health care law and building on its successes with more solutions to save us more money and improve the quality of our care.

CORE MESSAGE

We know how to deal with health care costs, but Republicans in Congress refuse to do it.

Connect: Our leaders should be working tirelessly to make a better future, not obsessing over old political fights.

Define: We know how to deal with health care costs, but Republicans in Congress would rather waste taxpayer money trying to help their corporate donors rip us off.

Explain: The Affordable Care Act doesn't just guarantee your coverage for life and crack down on fraud and waste in Medicare. It's a major step toward bringing health care costs under control.

Illustrate: The health care law includes common sense ideas to save you money, like cutting overpayments to insurance companies and creating incentives for doctors and hospitals to get better results at lower costs.

Lead: We can do more to save money with Medicare leading the way -- by ending taxpayer giveaways to drug companies and making private insurance companies compete against Medicare's proven success as the most cost-effective care money can buy.

Priorities: It's time for our leaders to stop hospitals, private insurers, and drug companies from overcharging us. Your care should be based on your health, not what's most profitable.


ATTACKS AND RESPONSES


CONCERN: "Obamacare implementation will be a train wreck."
RESPONSE:

  • Implementation of the health care law is well underway and already saving American lives and money.
  • The biggest obstacles to finishing the job are political -- Republicans in Congress who want to cut Obamacare to score political points.
  • So watch for the difference between the politicians who are promising to make implementation a train wreck and the lawmakers who are doing exactly what they should be doing -- making sure that implementation of the law is as successful as possible.
  • Anyone doubting whether America is up to the challenge should look to recent history -- like the popular children's health insurance program we created to cover millions of uninsured children.

ATTACK: "Obamacare increases health care costs."
RESPONSE:

  • Repealing Obamacare means people will end up paying more for their health insurance, not to mention that it will take away the law's cost-containment measures that have only started to take effect.
  • Obamacare creates a taxpayer protection board to prevent insurers and lobbyists from ripping off seniors with Medicare. And that's just one of the law's innovations that make Medicare even more cost-effective and even better at getting more value for our health care dollars.
  • But we can do even more to save money with Medicare leading the way -- by ending taxpayer giveaways to drug companies and making private insurance companies compete against Medicare's proven success as the most cost-effective care money can buy.
  • We passed Obamacare because no family should have to choose between putting food on the table and visiting a doctor. We can't wait to build on Obamacare -- because your care should be based on what's best for your health, not what's most profitable.

ATTACK: "Medicare spending is out of control."
RESPONSE:

  • Medicare is vastly more cost-effective and controls costs better than private insurance, which has administrative overhead that can be up to ten or more times higher than Medicare's 2%.
  • This is an attack on Medicare -- a foundation of health and financial security for hardworking Americans who should be able to retire in dignity -- that doesn't get the facts right.
  • Actually, Medicare spending has slowed down -- so much that projected costs have fallen by more than $500 billion since 2010. Costs are growing more slowly than private insurance, too.
  • Medicare is a solution to dealing with Americans' health care costs because it's a proven cost-control leader and innovator that private insurers often follow. The problem is that Republicans in Congress would rather pad their corporate donors' profits.

ATTACK: "Letting Medicare bankrupt the country is stealing from our children and grandchildren."
RESPONSE:

  • Children are not better off if their parents and grandparents are worse off. Should the debate really be about pitting family members against family members -- or politicians putting the wealthy ahead of people who work for a living?
  • It isn't pro-family to force children into choosing between taking care of their own kids or their parents and grandparents. Taking responsibility and caring for one another and our families is a core American value.
  • Along with Social Security, Medicare is the foundation of Americans' health and financial security, not to mention a far more efficient way of securing it than in the private sector. In these tough and uncertain times, we need to protect these systems more than ever.
  • We need to deal with the system-wide health care costs problem. Medicare is leading the way and can and should do more to use its massive bargaining power to contain health care costs.

ATTACK: "We should raise the eligibility age for Medicare."
RESPONSE:

  • Raising the Medicare age is the world's worst 2-for-1 deal. It would cost Americans $2 for every $1 it saves Congress.
  • Forcing seniors to wait longer for Medicare means taking them out of the most efficient system we have today and pushing them into wasteful and costly private insurance pools -- driving up costs for everyone.
  • If you're a wealthy politician who doesn't worry about affording health care for himself or needing to retire after a lifetime of manual labor, sure, it's no big deal to you.
  • But if you're serious about fiscal responsibility, this leaves us with a health care system that provides less value and higher costs for everyone -- the opposite of what we want.

ATTACK: "Health reform is encouraging employers to cut the hours of their workers below 30 hours to avoid the employer mandate."
RESPONSE:

  • Keep in mind which firms are affected. The health care law exempts small businesses and requires only a tiny number of big businesses to pay into the system if they refuse to offer affordable coverage to their full-time workers and force taxpayers to pick up the tab.
  • More than 96% of the bigger companies already offer health insurance to their workers, but some CEOs would rather give themselves bonuses and manipulate workers' hours than offer their workers decent pay and benefits.
  • These are the problems our leaders need to fix, not our efforts to make big corporations do right by their employees. And if state and local governments are forced into cutting back on hours, politicians who've pushed for budget cutbacks should look in the mirror before blaming others.
  • The bottom line is that the health care law provides health insurance tax credits for small businesses and makes quality, affordable health coverage available to Americans who wouldn't otherwise have it -- including part-time workers.

ATTACK: "Health reform is pushing employers to not offer health insurance benefits at all."
RESPONSE:

  • With the health law in place, 98% of workers who get coverage through their work are expected to keep their plans. The rest can get covered elsewhere, like in the new insurance exchanges.  
  • Companies aren't required to offer health care now but many do anyway to attract the best workers, keep them healthy on the job, and stop other companies from recruiting them away.
  • And look at Costco. It pays good wages and provides health benefits to part-time and full-time workers. It's still posting record profits -- $540 million in one recent quarter.
  • The bottom line is that good, affordable health coverage will be available to everyone thanks to the health care law -- even if a few ruthless companies are willing to risk a public backlash and boycotts by dropping coverage for their workers.

We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. 
See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.


 


Posted in - Health Care - Budget - Taxes - Economy

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