Remember that happy press conference in which Obama said everyone will be working together to restrain out-of-control healthcare costs? “Everyone” except the healthcare industry.
From the Washington Post:
One week after the nation’s health insurance lobby pledged to President Obama to do what it can to constrain rising health costs, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is putting the finishing touches on a public message campaign aimed at killing a key plank in Obama’s reform platform.
As part of what it calls an “informational website,” the company has hired an outside PR company to make a series of videos sounding the alarm about a government-sponsored health insurance option, known as the public plan. Obama has consistently maintained that a government-run plan, absent high-paid executives and the need for profits, could be a more affordable option for Americans who have trouble purchasing private insurance. The industry argues that creating a public insurance program will undermine the marketplace and eventually lead to a single-payer style system.
In three 30-second videos, the insurer paints a picture of a future system in which patients wait months for appointments and can’t choose their own doctors, according to storyboards of the videos obtained by the Washington Post [see below].
One video titled “Waiting” shows a receptionist fielding a request from a patient enrolled in the new program.
“The government plan. OK hold on…let me see what’s available,” the woman says into the telephone. On the screen, with the caller on hold, the receptionist rearranges items on her desk, looks at a wide- open calendar and then fibs: “It looks like the first time we can fit you in is in two-and-a-half months.”
Another spot in the series, being developed by Capstrat media in Raleigh, shows a woman and child wandering down a darkened hospital doorway “as if they’re starting to realise that they’ve lost their way,” according to sketches of the video. “We can do a lot better than a government-run health care system,” the narrator concludes.
In today’s NYT, Paul Krugman blasts this behaviour:
[N]one of the reform proposals currently on the table would force people into a government-run insurance plan. At most they would offer Americans the choice of buying into such a plan. And the goal of the insurers is to deny Americans that choice. They fear that many people would prefer a government plan to dealing with private insurance companies that, in the real world as opposed to the world of their ads, are more bureaucratic than any government agency, routinely deny clients their choice of doctor, and often refuse to pay for care.
So will Obama get tough on this, the way he has with Detroit? Or will he grovel at Big Health’s feet, the way he’s doing with Wall Street?
Here are the BCBS storyboards:
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