Healthcare PR Pros React to Obama Speech

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More than 30 million people watched President Barack Obama’s prime-time address on healthcare reform last night. PRNewser solicited the opinions of healthcare PR executives to get their take on the speech.

“Obama not as much regained control, but he stepped up to say, ‘I am going to lead this and I need my party behind me.’ The moral imperative was interesting. You could hear emotion and anger in his voice which is not Obama like,” said Tish Van Dyke, General Manager, Health Policy and Public Affairs, Edelman. The President needed to “Make it real to people, relate it to something in their lives,” said Van Dyke, and he did this best around insurance form and worst around the “public option.”

Linda Dyson, EVP and Global Healthcare Practice Leader for Cohn & Wolfe, said that Obama, “delivered a strong speech, that was generally well-received because he provided actual specifics about the plan as well as his approach to universal healthcare reform.” Regarding the “public option,” Dyson said it is “viable but may be watered down to be more of a ‘fallback option’ if there are not enough private plans that will participate and compete.”

The speech helped Obama “put himself back smack at the center of the healthcare debate…something he absolutely needed to do,” said Al Jackson, Managing Director, Chandler Chicco Companies’ Washington, DC office. However, Jackson said he didn’t think Obama “re-set the debate” around healthcare reform. Jackson said that Democracts face the difficult choice, “between voting for the much maligned public option — which might cost them reelection — or voting against it and causing the President and the Party to face humiliating defeat.”

All of the executives PRNewser spoke with commented that the speech itself was strong. Chandler Chicco’s Jackson went on to state, “Whether you agree with his position on healthcare reform or not, you can’t help but admire his ability to speak to us in a way that we can’t ignore.”