AAHP Hires William Morris Talent Agency to Help Improve Media Image
The American Association of Health Plans has hired the William Morris talent agency to help improve its members' images and the portrayal of managed care in general in movies and television programs, the Wall Street Journal reports. AAHP hopes that the partnership will provide the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group with "access to key writers, power brokers and directors" and "advanced word" about upcoming movies and television shows that could "paint insurers in an unfavorable light." The decision to retain William Morris comes after several recent movies and television shows, such as "John Q" and Showtime's "Damaged Care," featured storylines playing to Americans' "irritation with their health insurers" (Martinez, Wall Street Journal, 7/9). AAHP in February launched an advertising campaign in entertainment industry trade publications in an effort to transform the message of the movie "John Q," in which a father holds a hospital emergency room hostage after his employer- sponsored HMO refuses to cover a heart transplant for his son. The ads marked the "first time the health insurers' group has ever advertised in such showbiz publications" (California Healthline, 2/14).
AAHP hopes to "offer itself as a resource" for the entertainment industry on medical topics, including new genetic tests, bioterrorism and medical privacy issues. Mark Merritt, senior vice president at AAHP, said that the decision to employ William Morris comes from the fact that "three times as many Americans watch the television drama 'ER' as those who watch 'NBC Nightly News.'" AAHP officials say they do not "have any illusions of an overnight turnaround" in their members' movie and television image. Merritt added that although other lobbying groups "see Hollywood as little more than a pop-culture sideshow, embattled industries like ours don't have the luxury to be so dismissive" (Wall Street Journal, 7/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.