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Obamacare At 3 Years: Still A Big Deal

March 22, 2013 11:57 am ET
Tomorrow is the three-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. Here are topline messages, plus attacks and responses.

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CORE MESSAGE

The health care law is saving lives and money.

Values: In America, people who work for a living ought to be able to take their sick kids to the doctor and know that no insurance company will get away with ripping them off.

Define: The health care law is saving American lives and money.

Explain: The health care law guarantees your coverage for life - whether you're a senior with Medicare, you have a pre-existing condition or you get a costly illness.

Illustrate: That means you won't end up in an emergency room just because you can't get insurance or live in fear of losing your family's health coverage if you lose your job.

Affirm: Republican governors are implementing the health law because they know what's best for the people of their states. 

Contrast: But Republicans in Congress want to take it away -- putting millions of Americans one car accident or heart attack away from financial ruin, if they can get care at all.


Killer fact: Tens of thousands of Americans without health insurance used to die every year because they couldn't get the medical care they need.

Killer fact: More than 6 million people with Medicare have saved more than $6 billion on prescription drugs and 105 million Americans got coverage of free preventive health care.


ATTACKS AND RESPONSES


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

  • We do need to tackle health care costs while making sure patients get the right care at the right time. The good news is that three years later, health costs throughout the system -- including Medicare and Medicaid -- are slowing down.
  • The health law contains essentially every cost-containment provision the experts say is effective in holding down health care costs -- and the measures have only begun to take effect.
  • These innovations in the Affordable Care Act also make Medicare an even better leader in getting more value for our health care dollars, like the taxpayer protection board to prevent insurers and lobbyists from ripping off seniors with Medicare.
  • For patients worried about out-of-pocket costs, Obamacare saves them money by eliminating co-pays for check-ups, providing preventive care at no extra cost, and lowering prescription drug costs. In fact, seniors have saved over $6 billion on their medicines thanks to the health law.
  • The health care law helps hold down insurance premiums too, like by capping the amount of money that insurers can siphon off premiums for marketing and CEO bonuses. The law also allows small businesses to band together to get the same lower insurance rates as big corporations.


ATTACK: "Obamacare increases government debt."
RESPONSE:

  • Actually, the health law reduces the deficit.
  • Here's how: The health law cracks down on waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare, ends billions in taxpayer overpayments to insurance companies, and expands smart preventive care so doctors can detect illnesses early, before they get more expensive to treat.
  • So it makes sense that repealing the health law would do the opposite and increase the deficit. Take it from the nonpartisan authorities required by law to be objective.


ATTACK: "Obamacare will dramatically increase costs for young people."
RESPONSE:

  • Young people want affordable health insurance, too. They want the peace of mind from knowing that they won't be one car accident, freak injury, or unexpected illness away from a lifetime of medical debt.
  • Obamacare gives them more choices and resources to get that coverage.
  • They can stay on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26 and get tax credits to help buy coverage, not to mention better benefits like preventive care at no extra cost and protections against insurance companies ripping them off once they get covered.
  • Our health care system works best when it works for everyone and people take responsibility for their health and financial well-being -- including young adults. That's what being an adult is about.


ATTACK: "The states should turn down the Medicaid expansion."
RESPONSE:

  • Are you saying that leaving kids unable to go to the doctor and seniors unable to get their medicines will make America better off?
  • The health law's Medicaid expansion is a good deal for the states. That's why Republican governors are saying yes to federal money to cover their constituents.
  • Because Democratic and Republican governors are doing the right thing by their states, more hard-working Americans will get the security of quality health coverage.
  • Helping people get care ahead of time instead of in the ER means more cost savings too.


ATTACK: "The individual mandate is unfair -- Obamacare dictates to American families how they must spend the money in their already tight family budgets."
RESPONSE:

  • Everyone will need health care at some point in their lives, but having health insurance is and will continue to be a choice.
  • The "individual mandate" is really just a free rider fee for people who can afford health coverage but refuse to get it -- sticking the rest of us with the bill and driving up costs for everyone. That's an unfair burden on hard-working taxpayers, not just our health care system.
  • This free rider fee doesn't impact anyone who already has health insurance and there's help and hardship waivers for people who can't afford it. The remaining free riders are being asked to take responsibility and pay into the system so the rest of us don't have to pay for their care for free.
  • So a tiny percentage of free riders -- between just 2 to 5% of Americans -- will pay a small fee, while millions of families and small business owners that take responsibility for their care will get tax credits.


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

  • We need to keep in mind which firms are affected here. The health care law exempts small businesses and requires only a tiny number of the biggest 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.
  • Keep in mind that 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 like Walmart than offer their workers decent pay and benefits.
  • That's the problem our leaders need to tackle, not our efforts to make sure big corporations do right by their employees.
  • 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 through 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 prevent 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 still posted a profit of $540 million last quarter-- more per worker than Walmart.
  • 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 - Jobs

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