The progressive activist organization Media Matters for America funded the group that reportedly crafted President Obama’s false claim that Americans can maintain their “choice” of doctors and insurance plans.
The little-known Herndon Alliance has been behind the marketing of Obamacare since the inception of the legislation.
The Herndon Alliance is “the most influential group in the health arena that the public has never heard of,” reported Politico in 2009.
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Politico said 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."
In June 2012, the Christian Science Monitor reported administration officials had been attending meetings with the Herndon Alliance and other organizations that support healthcare reform.
In 2010, Media Matters Action, the organization’s lobbying arm, gave $125,000 to the Herndon Alliance. The grant was reportedly earmarked for “rapid response media capability for countering misinformation and obstructive rhetoric.”
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WND reported yesterday that Herndon, tied to a who’s who of the radical left, recommended a series of phrases, some deceptive, that the White House and Democrats have used to sell the health-care law to the public.
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.
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.”
Using polling data about what Americans like and don’t like about Obamacare, Herndon concocted a list of words and statements to sell 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.”
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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 the 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.
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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.”
However, 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 premiums rise.
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 advises 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.
Chavez image gurus
The Herndon Alliance is openly partnered with a number of radical groups, including MoveOn, the National Council of La Raza and a slew of George Soros-funded activist organizations.
It is also partnered with a “direct action” group dedicated to the teachings of radical Saul Alinsky.
The original research that informed Herndon’s blueprint for marketing Obamacare, WND has found, was concocted by the imaging guru for the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.
Herndon’s campaign was also based on survey data from progressive pollster Celinda Lake, whose information was central in President Obama’s 2012 campaign decision to turn contraception for women into a key election issue.
Lake and Herndon have been providing strategy to Enroll America
The research component of the Herndon Alliance is provided by Celinda Lake, who teamed up with a marketing research firm, American Environics. AE uses social-values surveys to gauge public opinion.
Lake was commissioned recently by Enroll America to determine how best to market the Obamacare enrolment campaign to the public.
Lake’s survey found that even with tax credits and federal subsidies, those without insurance still considered the cost of Obamacare too heavy.
She recommended Enroll America not cite any specific dollar amounts when trying to convince the uninsured to sign up.
Lake’s firm, together with Herndon, was one of the driving forces behind the progressive strategy to use contraception as an election issue in 2012.
According to Lake’s website, her company conducted polling on the contraception issue in conjunction with an organization called the Communications Consortium Media Center, or CCMC, and the Herndon Alliance.
Lake’s research on voters attitudes on contraception found Roman Catholic voters tend to mirror voters overall when it comes to reproductive health-care services that the Affordable Care Act will cover.
Lake’s website said: “Not only are Catholics favorable to including birth control or contraception in insurance coverage, these inclusions also make them more favorable toward the Affordable Care Act.”
Herndon’s decision-making for how to market Obamacare was based significantly on the theoretical work of American Environics, which was founded in 2004 by a team of American strategists and Canadian researchers.
AE describes itself as a consulting firm that uses social-values surveys, cognitive linguistics and political psychology to help foundations and nonprofits develop breakthrough social change initiatives.
AE writes that since 2005, its research findings and strategic initiatives on health care, the economy and the environment have been used by multiple members of Congress.
In April 2005, current AE managing partners Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger started AE’s American branch.
Shellenberger previously worked for the anti-corporate, anti-globalization Global Exchange in San Francisco before starting a spin-off public relations firm in 1996, Communication Works.
By 2001, Shellenberger’s firm had grown and he merged it with Fenton Communications.
Fenton is the main marketing strategist for groups funded by the Soros-financed Tides Center. Fenton also crafted the public relations strategy of MoveOn.org, as well as a who’s who of far-left causes, organizations and activists, from Soros himself to Health Care for America Now to a number of anti-war groups.
In 2004, Shellenberger registered with the Department of Justice as a foreign agent.
His prime client was Venezuelan dictator Chavez. Shellenberger’s private consulting firm, Lumina Strategies LLC, got a six-month, $60,000 subcontract to help build up Chavez’s image, including by providing polling data.
Shellenberger is also a founder of the Apollo Alliance.
WND has reported Apollo is led by a host of radicals, including Van Jones, Obama’s former “green” jobs czar, who resigned after it was exposed that he founded a communist revolutionary group.
Jeff Jones, who heads Apollo’s New York branch, is a former top leader of the Weathermen terrorist organization, while Apollo associate Joel Rogers is a founder of the socialist-oriented New Party.
In May 2006, the AE team of Nordhaus and Shellenberger presented the Road Map for a Health Justice Majority to the Herndon Alliance.
Developed from a values perspective, the Road Map provides a “long-term guide for how to build that Base into a true majority based on activating shared values.”
The Road Map served as a basis for the Herndon Alliance’s plans to influence Americans into accepting the Obama government health care reform plans.
Richard Kirsch of the Obamacare activist group Health Care for America Now told Carrie Budoff Brown about AE’s findings: “The research from 2006 to 2007 was fundamental to helping shape our view of how to talk about health care and, generally, how progressives and Democrats talk about health care.”
Alinsky Academy, spreading wealth
The Herndon Alliance website lists the group’s “partners,” including the Soros-funded Center for American Progress. Van Jones works at the heavily influential group.
Other Herndon partners are the AFL-CIO, MoveOn, National Council of La Raza and the socialist-oriented SEIU union.
Yet another Herndon partner is Citizens Action of Wisconsin, an arm of the Midwest Academy.
Midwest is dedicated to teaching the tactics of radical organizer Alinsky.
Obama himself once funded Midwest Academy. He has been closely tied to Midwest’s founder, Heather Booth.
Booth has stated building a “progressive majority” would help for “a fair distribution of wealth and power and opportunity.”
She founded Midwest in the 1970s with her husband, Paul, a founder and the former national secretary of Students for a Democratic Society, the radical 1960s anti-war movement from which William Ayers’ domestic Weather Underground terrorist organization splintered.
The Woods Fund, a nonprofit on which Obama served as paid director from 1999 to December 2002, provided capital to the Midwest Academy. WND was first to report Obama sat on the Woods Fund board alongside Ayers.
In 1999, Booth’s Midwest Academy received $75,000 from the Woods Fund. In 2002, with Obama still serving on the Woods Fund, Midwest received another $23,500 for its Young Organizers Development Program.
Midwest describes itself as “one of the nation’s oldest and best-known schools for community organizations, citizen organizations and individuals committed to progressive social change.”
It later morphed into a national organizing institute for an emerging network of organizations known as Citizen Action.
Discover the Networks describes Midwest as “teach[ing] tactics of direct action, confrontation and intimidation.”
WND first reported the executive director of Midwest was part of the team that developed volunteers for President Obama’s 2008 campaign.
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott.