Wednesday, May 6, 2009

They Really ARE That Stupid: Universal Healthcare Edition

Thank you Frank Luntz for releasing into the blogosphere the attacks and talking points that Republicans will now use to attack universal healthcare. If Democratic strategists are worth a their salt they should be formulating counter strategies RIGHT NOW. The fight for universal healthcare will be won as much with messaging as it will with policy. Hell bloggers should also be coming up with counter arguments to their talking points. Here are a few of the points that Luntz thinks the GOP should be using. Lets smash them before they even get a chance to take hold.

(2) Acknowledge the “crisis” or suffer the consequences. If you say there is no healthcare crisis, you give your listener permission to ignore everything else you say. It is a credibility killer for most Americans. A better approach is to define the crisis in your terms. “If you’re one of the millions who can’t afford healthcare, it is a crisis.” Better yet, “If some bureaucrat puts himself between you and your doctor, denying you exactly what you need, that’s a crisis.” And the best: “If you have to wait weeks for tests and months for treatment, that’s a healthcare crisis.”

I believe a good counter to this would be. "If you can't afford healthcare then nothing else matters. You or your child won't be waiting weeks or months for care, you will be waiting forever. Do you want to have to choose between bankruptcy or getting your child the care they need?"

(3) “Time” is the government healthcare killer. As Mick Jagger once sang, “Time is on Your Side.” Nothing else turns people against the government takeover of healthcare than the realistic expectation that it will result in delayed and potentially even denied treatment, procedures and/or medications. “Waiting to buy a car or even a house won’t kill you. But waiting for the healthcare you need – could. Delayed care is denied care.”

I believe it is important to bring up the GOP hypocrisy on this issue. The messaging should be something to the effect of "The GOP wants to scare you about government run healthcare. We don't want the government to take over healthcare we just want you to have more options. Republicans believe they know better than you do what kind of coverage you and your family need. Ask yourself a question, if a public option is not mandatory why does the GOP fear it so much? I think Americans should have the right to choose whether they want private insurance or a government alternative don't you?" The word FREEDOM should be hijacked by the Democrats on this issue. Having a public option is all about the FREEDOM to choose.

(5) The healthcare denial horror stories from Canada & Co. do resonate, but you have to humanize them. You’ll notice we recommend the phrase “government takeover” rather than “government run” or “government controlled” It’s because too many politician say “we don’t want a government run healthcare system like Canada or Great Britain” without explaining those consequences. There is a better approach. “In countries with government run healthcare, politicians make YOUR healthcare decisions. THEY decide if you’ll get the procedure you need, or if you are disqualified because the treatment is too expensive or because you are too old. We can’t have that in America.”

Now this is a GOP trick that they have been using for years on healthcare. But the Democrats have usually not been good at combating this notion. Even Michael Moore's "Sicko" movie didn't educate enough people to the fallacy of that "Candian/European/Socialist healthcare attack to make a huge difference. Again I think its important to turn this around on Republicans. First I think we should have horror stories of our own where insurance companies denied coverage to people who needed it the most. I am talking about someone's kid, someone's wife, someone's grandmother or grandfather. Then the messaging should follow something like this. "We don't need to look to Canada for health care horror stories. X person told me X story about their health care situation. What we need to be doing is looking for American solutions to American healthcare problems and not wasting time on Canadian strawmen."

(7) “One-size-does-NOT-fit-all.” The idea that a “committee of Washington bureaucrats” will establish the standard of care for all Americans and decide who gets what treatment based on how much it costs is anathema to Americans. Your approach? Call for the “protection of the personalized doctor-patient relationship.” It allows you to fight to protect and improve something good rather than only fighting to prevent something bad.

Here is actually a GREAT opening to attack the bad guys, the insurance companies, and hang them around the neck of the GOP. First we should focus on how the system is set up now not only to deny coverage to people who have insurance, but to also put pressure on doctors to see as many patients as possible so they can maximize the payment from the insurance companies. Some questions might be, "Have you noticed that your doctor doesn't spend much time in the room with you these days? Are you spending a lot more time with the nurse than the doctor? Have you had to change doctors when you changed jobs because your new insurance wasn't accepted by your old doctor? That's because these days going to the doctor is more about the insurance company than the patient. Republicans in Congress and Insurance companies want to continue to control what doctor you can see and when you can see them. Don't you want the freedom that comes with more options?"

(10) It’s not enough to just say what you’re against. You have to tell them what you’re for. It’s okay (and even necessary) for your campaign to center around why this healthcare plan is bad for America. But if you offer no vision for what’s better for America, you’ll be relegated to insignificance at best and labeled obstructionist at worst. What Americans are looking for in healthcare that your “solution” will provide is, in a word, more: “more access to more treatments and more doctors…with less interference from insurance companies and Washington politicians and special interests.”

This should be followed up with who REALLY gets more in a GOP inspired health care plan. "Patients get to pay more in insurance costs. Doctors get to see more patients than they optimally should so they can maximize profits from the insurance companies, Insurance companies get more money coming in from insurance premiums, and Republicans get more campaign contributions from the health care industry. Do you want to be seen as a patient or a profit?"

Now these are just my quick formulations, I am sure not my best work. But I think that if we all put our heads together we can come up with the arguments that will win in the court of public opinion and help insure that we get universal health care this time. Please give me your insights and suggestions and I will repost the best ones as well as some more well thought out rebuttals of my own.

1 comment:

  1. This is the easiest rebuttal: "If you lose your job and therefore your healthcare coverage, as millions have, the government will offer you a healthcare alternative."

    I think now, more than ever, Americans understand the drawbacks of private insurance. If you lose your job, you're assed out.


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