Editor’s note: This is the second WND report investigating the Herndon Alliance, the group behind the marketing of Obamacare. The first article, which exposed Herndon’s ties to many radical groups, can be read here.
A group that has been the driving force in branding Obamacare has recommended a series of phrases, some deceptive, that the White House and Democrats have used to sell the health-care law to the public, WND has found.
The little-known Herndon Alliance has been behind the marketing of Obamacare since the inception of the legislation.
It was the group that crafted President Obama’s false claim that Americans can maintain their “choice” of doctors and insurance plans.
Along with advising the Obama administration, Herndon has been providing strategy to Enroll America, the main organization pushing for the uninsured to sign up for Obamacare. Enroll America’s executive director, Ron Pollack, was a founding member of Herndon.
The Herndon Alliance is “the most influential group in the health arena that the public has never heard of,” reported Politico in 2009.
Politico reported that when Obama repeatedly announced Americans can maintain their “choice” of doctors and insurance plans, he was “using a Herndon strategy for wringing fear out of a system overhaul.”
The Herndon Alliance, based in Seattle, describes itself as “a nationwide non-partisan coalition of more than 200 minority, faith, labor, advocacy, business, and healthcare provider organizations.”
As WND reported in February 2012, the group received a grant from the lobbying arm of the progressive Media Matters for America to help the White House to craft and market Obamacare.
Using polling data about what Americans like and don’t like about Obamacare, Herndon concocted a list of words and statements to use in selling the legislation to the country.
Herndon recommended avoiding the following terminology: “Universal health care,” “Canadian Style Health care,” “Medicare for All,” “Competition,” “Government health care for all,” “Regulations,” “Required,” “Public or Government health care,” and “Basic health care.”
Key phrases to use in the messaging of Obamacare include “Quality affordable health care,” “American solutions,” “A choice of private and public plans,” “Choice and control,” “Giving security and peace of mind,” “Sliding scale, pay what you can afford,” “Government as a watchdog, ensure a fair playing field,” “Affordable health plans” and “Smart investments.”
Many of these phrases were incorporated in the marketing material released by the White House and groups like Enroll America.
Herndon specifically labels women, particularly those over the age of 65, “a key persuadable audience.”
“We need to show them how the new law will benefit them. Remember that when messaging to women, start with our core message to build trust,” continues Herndon.
The core message: “Reform requires that Members of Congress get their healthcare coverage from the same plans as millions of Americans.”
However, the Affordable Care Act actually locks lawmakers and their staffers out of the federal government’s group health plan and instead puts them into state insurance exchanges.
Herndon recognized the public was finding it difficult to accept Obamacare will bring health-care costs down.
So to avoid a conversation on costs, Herndon suggested what it called a “long-term effort to ‘move’ the public along by focusing the conversation on specific benefits of the law that will most affect them.”
On Medicare, Herndon concocted two key selling points: “The law protects Medicare and provides preventive care with no co-pay.”
In actuality, it has been widely reported the government is scaling back Medicare funding to help defray the costs of Obamacare, with the likely loss of some benefits while raising premiums.
In one immediate ramification, the country’s largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans, UnitedHealth Group, said it will need to reduce the number of doctors in its network nationally by 10 to 15 percent in the next year alone.
For those who say they don’t trust the government, Herndon posits the best response “is one that says the law requires us all (consumers, doctors and nurses, hospitals, insurance companies) to take responsibility and play by fair rules.”
“Our government is a government for all the people, not just for the privileged,” Herndon recommends saying.
However, that talking point may surprise critics of what has been described as waivers of some provisions of the health-care law for a number of businesses and unions.
The Department of Health and Human Services allowed lower annual caps on the total amount of medical bills some firms and unions pay for each subscriber. Reportedly the temporary waivers were offered to 722 businesses, 417 groups of small employers bound by collective bargaining agreements and 34 unions.