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Obama Strategists Shift Tactics, Not Goal, on Health Care

Samuel Staley
August 14, 2009, 8:26am

Scott Gottlieb, M.D., a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in the New York Post that the Obama Administration is watching the poll numbers to re-craft their health care reform message in real time. Most recently, they have shifted their message from covering the uninsured (universal coverage) to attacking insurance companies. Polling numbers find that Americans like their doctors but not the insurance companies.

That broadside [by Speaker Nancy Pelosi demonizing insurance companies] was foreshadowed by a subtler Obama shift during his July 22 press conference, when he repeatedly referred to his health-care plan as "insurance reform." Gone was his usual pitch about the need to cover America's uninsured.

The president hit the same theme yesterday at a town-hall meeting in Portsmouth, NH, telling the audience "right now we have a health-insurance system that works better for the insurance industry than it does for the American people."

The new language suggests a clear shift in strategy: When Congress returns, expect the White House and Democratic leaders to recast health reform as "consumer protection from insurance companies" rather than "providing coverage for America's uninsured."

But the new "marketing strategy" is a pitch for the same final product--a single, government-run insurance program.

More on Reason Foundation's work on health care and universal coverage can be found here.


Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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