Obama’s healthcare messages are backfiring, strategists say

The president’s range of abstract arguments for reform are leaving people confused, some Democrats contend.

By Peter Nicholas

August 22, 2009

Reporting from Washington – Democratic strategists say the Obama administration’s evolving, abstract arguments for healthcare reform are backfiring and contributing to a decline in public support for the legislation.

The strategists, many of whom saw healthcare reform fail in the Clinton administration, contend that President Obama has advanced too many rationales for his plan, leaving people confused.

For example, Obama has argued that a new healthcare system is necessary to spur an economic recovery. He also has offered up healthcare as an antidote to rising deficits. Earlier this week in a conference call with religious leaders, Obama laid out a “moral” imperative for revamping the nation’s healthcare system.

At other points, Obama has portrayed “meddling” insurers as a reason for scrapping the existing system.

“One of the difficulties has been that the explanation has changed,” said Howard Paster, a legislative liaison in the Clinton administration. “Originally it was keyed very much to the economy. More recently, emphasis has been placed on issues of fairness and equity. We need to have a consistent set of reasons for doing this.”

Conservative opponents of the overhaul increasingly use a simple, understandable message: Government-forced cost reductions will restrict treatments, imperiling the ill and elderly.

To counter that, the case needs to be made in personal terms, some Democrats have advised. Rather than talk about healthcare’s relation to fiscal policy, the White House should demonstrate how specific constituencies — like the elderly — stand to gain under the plan Obama has championed.

“They have not excelled in that area,” said Chris Jennings, a senior healthcare advisor in the Clinton administration.

Jennings added that the Obama administration must emphasize that “the consequences of inaction are severe, and failure to act is a policy choice that will hurt real people. And the benefits of reform will help key targeted populations. You never want to get to a point in the healthcare debate where people are more comfortable doing nothing than doing something.”

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Friday that when Obama returns from vacation Aug. 30, he will reengage in the healthcare fight with a compelling message.

The president, Gibbs said, will “continue to tell people about why healthcare reform is important, why we can’t afford to do nothing, the stakes that are involved, and to try to push back on the mistruths and misrepresentations that we all know are still out there about healthcare reform.”

On his final workday before leaving for Camp David and Martha’s Vineyard, Obama talked healthcare strategy with former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle.

In a statement about the meeting, the White House said that the president and Daschle “agreed that substantive reform that lowers costs, reforms the insurance industry, and expands coverage is too important to wait another year or another administration.”

Another distraction for Obama has been uncertainty over his stance on the so-called public option, a government-run program that would serve as an alternative to private health insurance.

The White House contends that its stance is unchanged: The president favors it and wants to sign it into law.

But recently, Obama and other officials also have signaled that the public option is negotiable.

On a TV talk show last weekend, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that a public plan was not “the essential element” of Obama’s healthcare proposal.

Howard Dean, former Democratic National Committee chairman, said: “They’re not all saying the same thing, and that’s one of the problems.”

Others said the administration might be seeking maneuvering room in its dealings with Congress. Previous presidents who racked up significant legislative victories didn’t always spout a consistent message, said Bob Shrum, a longtime Democratic consultant.

“A little bit of zig-zag is probably essential to a successful presidency,” Shrum said.

But if Obama winds up jettisoning the public option, he risks antagonizing labor leaders and liberal supporters who helped him win the presidency.

Asked about Sebelius’ comment, Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, said in an interview: “I’ll let her speak for herself. I think it’s pretty essential.”

peter.nicholas@latimes.com

Maybe the true reason is the people of the United States see what’s in store and are saying “NO WAY!” The are beginning to see that is a lot of “bucks” for not much “bang”. That “piece meal” health care isn’t better for us. Letting  “Dr. Obama” make your health care decisions will get you DEAD!

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2 Responses to “Obama’s healthcare messages are backfiring, strategists say”

  1. Obama's healthcare messages are backfiring, strategists say « The … | AlternativeInsuranceGuide Says:

    […] See the article here: Obama's healthcare messages are backfiring, strategists say « The … […]

  2. jacksmith Says:

    NO CO-OP’S! A Little History Lesson

    Young People. America needs your help.

    More than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

    Our last great economic catastrophe was called the Great Depression. Then as now it was caused by a reckless, and corrupt Republican administration and republican congress. FDR a Democrat, was then elected to save the nation and the American people from the unbridled GREED and profiteering, of the unregulated predatory self-interest of the banking industry and Wallstreet. Just like now.

    FDR proposed a Government-run health insurance plan to go with Social Security. To assure all Americans high quality, easily accessible, affordable, National Healthcare security. Regardless of where you lived, worked, or your ability to pay. But the AMA riled against it. Using all manor of scare tactics, like Calling it SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!! :-0

    So FDR established thousands of co-op’s around the country in rural America. And all of them failed. The biggest of these co-op organizations would become the grandfather of the predatory monster that all of you know today as the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry. And the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry.

    This former co-op would grow so powerful that it would corrupt every aspect of healthcare delivery in America. Even corrupting the Government of the United States.

    This former co-op’s name is BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD.

    Do you see now why even the suggestion of co-op’s is ridiculous. It makes me so ANGRY! Co-op’s are not a substitute for a government-run public option.

    They are trying to pull the wool over our eye’s again. Senators, if you don’t have the votes now, GET THEM! Or turn them over to us. WE WILL! DEAL WITH THEM. Why do you think we gave your party Control of the House, Control of the Senate, Control of the Whitehouse. The only option on the table that has any chance of fixing our healthcare crisis is a STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION.

    An insurance mandate and subsidies without a strong government-run public option choice available on day one, would be worse than the healthcare catastrophe we have now. The insurance, and healthcare industry have been very successful at exploiting the good hearts of the American people. But Congress and the president must not let that happen this time. House Progressives and members of the Tri-caucus must continue to hold firm on their demand for a strong Government-run public option.

    A healthcare reform bill with mandates and subsidies but without a STRONG government-run public option choice on day one, would be much worse than NO healthcare reform at all. So you must be strong and KILL IT! if you have too. And let the chips fall where they may. You can do insurance reform without mandates, subsidies, or taxpayer expense.

    Actually, no tax payer funds should be use to subsidize any private for profit insurance plans. So, NO TAX PAYER SUBSIDIZES TO PRIVATE FOR PROFIT PLANS. Tax payer funds should only be used to subsidize the public plans. Healthcare reform should be 100% for the American people. Not another taxpayer bailout of the private for profit insurance industry, disguised as healthcare reform for the people.

    God Bless You

    Jacksmith — Working Class

    Twitter search #welovetheNHS #NHS Check it out

    (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/)

    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbWw23XwO5o) CYBER WARRIORS!! – TAKE THIS VIRAL

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