Posts Tagged ‘job lock’

Losing the Message

February 11, 2010

I assume the White House has professionals working on this, but I’m concerned about the messaging on health reform.   I went to the White House website, and the first thing I saw was this:

If you like your insurance, you can keep it.

No more denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions.

No dropped coverage when you get sick.

OK, it’s accurate, but uninspiring. It seems to me that it would be much more powerful if the President spoke about values rather than specific features of the plan.  How about something like this?

“Health reform will allow people to sleep well at night, with a sense of security that no one can take away their insurance.”

“People will have the freedom to start their own businesses, change jobs, or stay at home to take care of their children without worrying that they will lose their health insurance.”

“Small businesses can do what they do best – innovate, grow and thrive – without being crushed by health care costs.  This is the American dream.

“Never again will we tell a cancer patient or an accident victim, “You’re on your own.”  This is America, and we’re in this together.

I’m not an expert on this, but I’m guessing that the person-in-the-street would respond better to the values pitch.  It’s like advertising for sports cars: you don’t sell the size of the engine, you sell adventure. (Or for Volvo’s: you don’t sell the thickness of the side doors, you sell safety.)  The President is usually so good at this, and I’m surprised that the messaging on health reform has been so clunky.

The stakes are too high for the President, the Democrats and the entire country.  We’re getting killed on this.  Can David Plouffe or someone else crack the whip?  There are plenty of committed advocates and experts who would be happy to offer their time and energy to help the White House get this right.

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Vitality vs. Security? Not So

November 26, 2009

David Brooks gets it partly right in his recent column – the health reform debate is fundamentally about values – but he is wrong about the trade-offs.  His framing – “vitality or security” – sets up a straw man, a false choice.  How can anyone say that allowing 18-22,000 people to die each year due to lack of health insurance (according to the IOM and Urban Institute) represents “vitality”?  The tremendous loss of life as well as needless suffering and lost productivity in our current health system are surely a drag on our nation’s vitality.  And as Jon Cohn points out in his response to Brooks, the current employer-based system creates job lock for many people, stifling entrepreneurship and job mobility.

Of course, the Congressional health reform proposals could be stronger on cost containment, but they would be politically DOA.  The choice is simply between the status quo – with continued rising costs, rising uninsurance, inconsistent quality and more needless deaths – or an imperfect reform bill that expands coverage, reforms the insurance market, reduces mortality and suffering and establishes a framework for future cost containment initiatives.  It’s not about vitality vs. security – it’s slow death vs. possible cure.  Or in terms of values, it’s “we’re all in this together” vs. “you’re on your own”.