Dueling Healthcare Campaigns

Factions Aim to Influence D.C. Lawmakers
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Several campaigns hit the airwaves last week as lobbyists aim to influence the healthcare debate in Congress and shape the political climate for the 2000 elections.
The American Association of Health Plans launched a campaign to slam a Democratic proposal to strengthen patient rights in managed-care plans. Using creative from The Murphy Pintak Gautier Hudome Agency in Falls Church, Va., the ad argues that trial lawyers will be the only ones to benefit from expanding healthcare liability laws.
Separately, the Coalition for Affordable Quality Healthcare, which includes insurers like Aetna and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, unveiled a two-year, $10 million television push polishing the image of HMOs. The ads, created by Waylon Ad in St. Louis, use testimonials from managed-care doctors to counter “a perception that physicians are not favorably disposed toward managed care,” said Roger Bolton, chairman of the coalition.
Waylon, lead shop for Aetna, won the account in January. Also contending were: GSD&M, Austin, Texas; The Lord Group, New York; and incumbent Goddard Claussen, Malibu, Calif. The campaign is aimed at community opinion leaders and consumers who vote, said creative director Kipp Monroe.
In 1994, one member of the Coalition–the Health Insurance Association of America–funded the “Harry and Louise” ads from Goddard. That campaign showed a suburban couple worrying that President Clinton’s healthcare plan would take away their coverage and is credited with playing a significant role in defeating reform.
Some observers think this effort faces an uphill battle, however.