One week after the nation’s health insurance lobby pledged to President Obama to do what it can to constrain rising health costs, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is putting the finishing touches on a public message campaign aimed at killing a key plank in Obama’s reform platform.
As part of what it calls an "informational website," the company has hired an outside PR company to make a series of videos sounding the alarm about a government-sponsored health insurance option, known as the public plan. Obama has consistently maintained that a government-run plan, absent high-paid executives and the need for profits, could be a more affordable option for Americans who have trouble purchasing private insurance. The industry argues that creating a public insurance program will undermine the marketplace and eventually lead to a single-payer style system.
Somehow, this isn’t surprising. On Friday, the health insurance industry showed how un-serious they were about really controlling costs by backing away from the promise they made to President Obama. And now, the same industry is planning on making videos (which could be turned into ads) to try and kill the public health insurance option, the only real way to control costs.
Check out the storyboards from their proposed ads [pdf]. The message is right out of the Frank Luntz playbook – scaring the public about the dangers of "government-run health care," and lying by omission about the fact that Obama’s health care plan wouldn’t force anyone to choose a public health insurance plan if they didn’t want one.
Up until now, the disgraced CEO Rick Scott was the only one up on the air against Obama’s health care reform plans. Not even Republicans had a coordinated message to attack health care, at least not until Frank Luntz came along. But now, it looks like the message carried by Harry and Louise might be returning, once again payed for by an insurance industry desperately looking for any way to protect their profits in the face of competition and reform.
(also posted at the NOW! blog)
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