What Do the Democrats Need To Do To “Sell” Healthcare?


The Obama administration is pulling out all the stops to get a health-care bill passed before the holiday break, but they are facing more and more challenges from both within and outside the Democratic Party.

White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today to defend the bill. “To defeat a bill that will bend the curve on this inexorable rise in health-care costs is insane,” he said. The appearance comes on the heals of comments yesterday from former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, who urged Democrats to vote against the current bill, calling it an “insurance company bailout.”

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows just 37 percent of Americans believe “the quality of care they receive will be better under the new plan as compared to 53 percent who said the care would be superior if the status quo was maintained.” However, 51 percent said “government intervention is ‘necessary to control costs and expand coverage.'” So, what do Democrats need to do now on the PR front to sell the bill?

“Democrats are facing two major challenges: a very complicated bill that’s difficult to reduce to a six second sound bite and reporters who are more interested in covering process than the nuts and bolts of the actual bill,” Stace Paxton, former national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee and Vice President in Hill & Knowlton’s Washington, D.C. office told PRNewser.

As many Americans continue to face unemployment and hard economic realities, Paxton said, “The debate needs a human face and people need to be told how they will personally benefit. Democrats should focus on the top-line, easy to understand benefits of the bill and repeat, repeat, repeat.”

Jesse Derris, Vice President of Crisis Communications at Sunshine, Sachs & Associates, and a former state communications director for Kerry-Edwards 2004, said it’s all about making the message easier to understand. “Obama won because people wanted ‘change they can believe in,'” he said. “Republicans are winning this debate because it’s easier to scare people than to sell them. Democrats must make their message more simple and more top-line. The minutiae is killing them.”