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July 22nd, 2009
11:00 AM ET

Harry & Louise switch sides

By Jim Acosta and Bonney Kapp

15 years after their television debut, actors Harry Johnson and Louise Clark are back, reprising the roles that made them famous – or infamous depending on your political persuasion.

Better known as “Harry and Louise,” the duo sank the Clinton administration’s efforts to pass health care reform in the early 1990s, with a series of TV advertisements that claimed proposed changes would “force” Americans to pick from limited plans designed by “government bureaucrats.”

The ads, paid for by the health insurance industry, were considered controversial with threats such as, “If they choose; we lose.”

The proposed reform dubbed “HillaryCare” never got out of Congress and serious efforts for reform have not been proposed again – until now.

Cue Harry and Louise.

“Well, it looks like we may finally get health care reform,” Harry says in what looks like it might be the same kitchen table set they used 15 years ago. “It’s about time,” Louise responds, adding, “A little more cooperation, a little less politics and we can get the job done.”

That’s right, this time Harry and Louise are using a different script for a new pro-reform ad paid for by Families USA and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Johnson and Clark were first tapped last year during the height of the 2008 election by the pro-reform groups for a new series of ads depicting the same characters. Ron Pollack, head of Families USA, re-introduced the fictional couple at a press conference last August and joked, “I did not mean any harm by saying they've gotten older; we all have. They actually are better looking and they’re a whole lot wiser.”

Johnson and Clark later explained the role reversal in a behind-the-scenes video of the making of the ‘08 ad. “Things are much more expensive than they used to be,” Harry said. “Both of us know people who are having problems because they don’t have adequate coverage or don’t have any coverage at all,” Louise added. “We both know more people now than 15 years ago.”

While the duo is still a part of the political lexicon, it seems both sides of the aisle are unaware of their political switch, with both President Obama and RNC Chair Michael Steele recently referencing the Harry and Louise of yesterday.

After all, is the sequel ever as good as the original?


Filed under: Health • Politics
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. ronvan

    This is just another part of the thinking process with the American people of today! These two are nothing more than actors who are getting PAID to express, not their own opinions, but rather the people that are paying them!

    July 31, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  2. K L SURRATT JR.

    Dear CNN , Please tell Hala Gorani; Her comment about a Public School was in very bad taste!! Being gritty and dirty is like going to a Public School.

    K L Surratt Jr.

    July 23, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  3. Bernice

    Reform it, without govt. involvement! There is NOT one good medical program out there for the people UNLESS you are in GOVT OFFICES! Think about it! They DO NOT WAZNT TO EVEN TRY IT! They know better! Leave the govt. OUT of our healthcare, and fix the waste! He should have ALREADY done that much! That is ALL that he should be helping with!

    July 23, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  4. ronvan

    Its all about the $$$$. These two are only PAID actors. It is not their beleifs that they are talking about, it is what they are getting paid to say! I am still waiting for someone, anyone, to publish their plan so we can have something to compare, everything else that is going on is just politics and self serving opinions.

    July 23, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  5. Sly

    We need health care and maybe it's more easy if everyone should pay a cople dollars from their pay check.
    I dont understand why cnn dont show storys about people who has health insurance and they are not covered when they need and the premium is going every year higher

    July 23, 2009 at 9:05 am |
  6. Hemant Kale

    Health care reform is not possible unless and until we eliminate, or nearly eliminate, the third-party (employer) paid/provided medical insurance. This is where the basic disconnect between payer and payee originates, and it gets only worse thereafter. However, seems, the current proposal is forcing employers and uninsureds to purchase insurance or be punished by a fine. All the effort is to create unlimited pool of money for the health industry. That is no way to get better health care. Competition is the only way. Making Americans pay for the insurance from their pockets is the proper way.

    July 23, 2009 at 8:06 am |
  7. Terry, TX

    The ads suck.....no specifics...just rhetoric.

    July 23, 2009 at 7:29 am |
  8. JLW

    Canadian health care. everything that glitters is not gold. Citizens and
    companies pay high taxes for health care. The service is very bad some people wait from 3 to 6 months for procedures. Many people with life threatening cases are forced to come to the U.S. for treatment.

    Private clinics, not covered under the system , are available and more are opening up. There are private consulting firms that will direct
    Canadians, who need immediate attention, to Doctors and hospitals in the U.S. that can take care of them.

    One positive area is medication. It is 20% to 30% cheaper in Canada.
    The U.S. needs to take time to evaluate and put in a system that will be efficient and at a low cost. Obama is moving to fast.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  9. ERNESTINE BARNES

    I LIVE IN PEORIA,IL IAM 59YR. I GOT LAIDOFF IN FEB. NO HEALTH INSURANCE I WENT TO THE PUBLIC AID OFFICE FOR A MEDICA CARD.THEY TOLD NO BECAUSE I DONOT HAVE A CHILD AND I DO NOT HAVE DISABLE. I HAD 2 CANCER AND NOW I HAVE A HEARTTROUBLE.A MEN CAN GET HELP BEFORE ME .WHAT S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. I AM GETTING UNEMPLOYMENT CHECKS. IF I GOT MY MEDINE IT WILL TAKE A WHOLE CHECK. ERNESTINE FROM PEORIA

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  10. EMMANUEL SHARPE

    I am with Harry and Louise, and want you to know that only wise people change. The politicians of this country do not want to see new things, because they have lots of things under their sleeves and do not want have it go. They are used to doing things the old way, and they are uncomfortable with REFORM. Please continue supporting President Obama's plan for reform. Now is the time, therefore let us push REFORM NOW.

    July 22, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  11. Craig Campbell - Ark

    According to planned Parenthood whose 39% of abor tions are black; report 19 million black abortions since 1965 ; that's enough to populate 9 states.
    1.5 million is the number of all US casualties since 1776, same as are aborted annually now. By promoting this tax-funded abortion healthcare, & or signing FOCA , Obama becomes the #1 purveyor of eliminating the black race. Black voters especially, will take note of this voter-risky bill in 2010 ...

    July 22, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  12. Rita Brocke

    I am with you Harry and Louise. The people of the USA know all the tricks too well. We know who pays for the ads against and questioning health care reform.
    We will no longer pay for a health care system inefficient
    and costly although labeled non-profit. We know who is becoming rich. We will not be fooled with the label of "socialized" medicine.
    Looking at the health statistics of Canada and EU countries we would appreciate an improved system which costs less.
    Yes, we are hanging with Harry and Louise and we are not going away.

    July 22, 2009 at 11:16 am |