American Morning

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November 30th, 2009
10:26 AM ET

Record $165 million in ads to influence you on health care reform

The Senate begins debating its health care reform bill today. You're probably already noticing more and more commercials on TV trying to shape that debate.

A record $165 million has already been spent on health care ads, and there's a reason for that.

Remember Harry and Louise? They're actors who some say single-handedly shifted the case for health reform against the Clintons in the 1990's.

Fifteen years after Harry and Louise entered our living rooms – millions of dollars are being pumped into a whole new generation of ads lobbying us for, and against, the health care bills in Congress.

Are they effective – and who are they targeting? Evan Tracey, founder and president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, spoke to Joe Johns on American Morning Monday.

Filed under: Politics
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Alexander G Muniz

    Some of the items I think Congress should consider to reform Health Care are:
    1) Have the insurance companies responsible under the anti-monopoly and anti-trust laws.
    2) Have patients verify the treatments and medications administered before the insurance companies make payment for same.
    3) Hire competent investigators to look into allegations of fraud.
    4) Impose severe penalties for violations of these reforms, not the non-penalties that now exist for these violations.

    December 1, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  2. M. Stevens

    I for one, after looking at the bill in the Senate right now, believe that we are going in the wrong direction. There are a lot of people in the same position as I in that affordable health insurance is out of reach. There are no caps in place and insurance companies charge the maximum the market will bear without quality in mind. In my situation the employer sponsored coverage would take nearly 30% of my gross pay. Like others in my position I had to opt out so that my children would have a roof over their heads and food on the table. It is pretty sad when health insurance competes with home owners mortgages. I say that one of the acceptable first steps is regulation with an eye on reform of the medical industry. It should be a double edged sword in that there should be a push to reform the medical industry through efficiencies and poor billing practices and regulate the costs of the insurance industry. Forcing the public to take part in a poorly evolved insurance system and a medical practice system that has been allowed to run wild is not the answer in my opinion. I understand the bill is only a first step but we should, as Americans, pull together and have a bill that takes a first step in the right direction.

    December 1, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  3. Kyra G.

    Whatever happened to the majority rules? Most of the American people want the health care reform. I know that I want it. Why doesn't the government listen to it's people anymore? It seems once they get into office, it's what they think is good for the people and they turn a deaf ear to we're saying.

    December 1, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  4. JCF1962

    the health insurance industry will go to ANY lengths to protect
    their profits...they've already shown they are willing to let people
    suffer and die rather than lose a buck...their behavior is amoral and
    inhumane...for them, suffering=$$, it is obscene.

    December 1, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  5. Mike D

    Well said Kawad and Jason T.

    Get the facts first. Agreeing with me does not matter, just be informed on your position and do not allow yourself to be swayed by a biased media.

    Stop accepting, at face value, the pre-packaged, homogenized, half baked soaps being fed to the public as truth. Facts are just that. Facts which will not change, regardless of opinion, except when corrected by new facts. Truth is formed from facts + other influences which often outweigh the facts. Truth is not necessarily fact, and can change over time.

    Whatever happened to the days of the news, when the facts and only the facts were presented. Opinions were editorials, and clearly labeled as such.

    Do the research. Case in point, the recent medical recommendation for women not to receive annual mamograms . . . I checked on the panel that made this recommendation. Two of the panel experts were representatives of the health care insurance industry. Can you really expect unbiased information from such a source – I think not. I would speculate that the hidden agenda for this panel is to cut health care costs – read increase profits, for the health insurance industry. However, this is my opinion (truth) based upon what facts I could discover, and is subject to changed based on new facts.

    Regardless, stop being led like sheep to slaughter. Think for yourself.

    December 1, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  6. jay m

    Private Insurance premiums will never stop rising, that is why we need a government option. They are spending millions in ads so they can continue to rob us.

    December 1, 2009 at 7:38 am |
  7. John C


    The majority of Americans WANT health care reform, not the other way around. You may not want it (why?) but the majority do. You sound like you are just repeating the sounds bites of the opposition party. The opposition that lost the jobs and started the wars.

    December 1, 2009 at 7:22 am |
  8. JEP

    I cannot understand why anyone would be against the health reforms (unless they work for a health insurance company). It is a win for everyone else, including employers who pay the bulk of insurance premiums.

    Health insurance has doubled in the last 10 years and will double again in 10 years if nothing is done.
    The Republican party of NO is protecting the rich who will pay more taxes and the health insurance companies.
    The US Chamber of Commerce seems to have become the propaganda arm of the Republican party. They seem to think quoting a lie in another publication makes it true. They also seem to think that TV viewers are dumb enough to believe them. I hope they are wrong.

    November 30, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  9. Colleen Reichenberg

    My name is Colleen Reichenberg and I am a Major in the United States Army. I am a Healthcare Comptroller and have served for approximately 12 years in a myriad of assignments from fixed facility hospitals in the states, to a Combat Support Hospital in Iraq.

    I have some very genuine concerns after reading several sections of the new healthcare bill.

    The Army Medical Department has been funding their hospitals based on a pay for performance system (PPS) since 2006. The baseline funding is adjusted according to productivity and efficiency using the Performance Based Adjustment Model (PBAM). PBAM adjustments are determined based on several indicators: ambulatory productivity and efficiency, inpatient productivity and efficiency measured on average length of stay, customer satisfaction, preventive medicine, etc. The Military Healthcare System (MHS) is, in a sense, a universal healthcare provider to active duty, active duty family members and retirees. The MHS is a very well oiled, hierarchical organization in which such funding changes can be implemented. What organizational structure is there, within the Federal government, which would be able to measure and disperse funds based on this very complicated set of criteria set forth in the bill?

    Starting on page 332, the bill describes how a hospital may not expand its capabilities without the requested permission of the federal government to do so. I do not understand how such provisions are needed under a health insurance program. Why does the expansion of a hospital, which is a local decision based on local desires, need to be a federal decision? In Department of the Army (DA) hospitals, that decision is made locally. Hospital commanders have a budget for which they may expand or decrease some services based on the needs of their population. If a hospital has two operating room beds, and wants to expand to four, in order to allow for a new specialty, according to the bill’s scenario, that would not be allowed without permission from the federal government. Simply taking on a new operating specialty, such as bariatric surgery, may require an increase in operating rooms without an inherent increase in population. In this, I see a flaw in the bill’s logic. I can only see that this stipulation would serve to ration operating room time.

    Medicare is a huge program that makes up more than 13 percent of our entire federal budget. According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, Medicare’s annual anti-fraud budget totals $465 billion. I found multiple areas of the bill that referenced the need to enhance fraud, waste and abuse detection. Medicare inception was in 1965. After 44 years of Medicare coverage, the federal government has not been able to figure out a solution. My concern is that the fraud will be unmanageable and the inflation of the program cost will follow.
    According to the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare is spending more than it is taking in from taxes and is projected to nearly double from $477 billion in 2009 to $871 billion in 2018. In May, the Obama administration announced that Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is projected to run out of money in 2017. Disabled individuals wait to qualify for Medicare for two years. Without this wait time, cost would be significantly higher. According to page 51, of the Healthcare Reform bill, coverage expands to all Americans and illegal immigrants. How could we not deduce that the level of inflation and fraud would not increase with the expansion of healthcare services to so many more people?
    There are several other areas, of this bill, for which I have great concern. These are just a few. I implore all Americans to read the actual document, sift through the legal language, and with an analytical eye, decide for yourself.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:17 pm |
  10. Jeff

    This is big government and big business working to take your choices away from you. It is the haves telling the have nots that you don't know what is good for you, so we will make your decisions. Basic Democratic ideolgy/thought process. Throw in a little Socialist seasoning (work for the collective good, do not have individual thought, do not question), and you get the current "ruling" Federal government of the United States.

    November 30, 2009 at 7:25 pm |
  11. Nancy J. Boudy

    Whatever happened to the majority rules? Most of the Amiercian people do not want the health care reform. I know that I don't want it. Why doesn't the government listen to it's people anymore? It seems as it once they get into office, it's what they think what 's good for the people and turn a deaf ear to we're saying. Where are the jobs. If they could create jobs so the people can get to work, I believe that we can gradually get this country back on track. This is more important right now and the war in Afganistan and everything else can get on the back burner.

    November 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  12. Jason T.

    If you have to spend that much money to tell me how great your healthcare plan is – the one that you yourself will not be on – then it sounds like you are selling a fraud...

    November 30, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  13. Kawad

    Just goes to show you that in these trying economic times, the health care industry is not having any problems at all paying their bills and continue to choke us with untrue ads and scare tactics. Must be nice. I'm worried about next weeks food bill and they are throwing money at the TV ads with untruths and malicious, vindictive lies laced with fear and scare tactics. Worst problem is that people who do not do their research believe the SOB's. As for people like Lieberman, he needs to go. he is paid to object he and his wife and that's making me sick to my stomach.

    November 30, 2009 at 2:20 pm |