HMO REFORM: AMA Fires Volley for Public Opinion
With the Senate battle over managed care reform looming next week, interest groups are beginning to deploy their public relations ammunition. In a full page ad in today's USA Today, the American Medical Association asks, "Criminals all have rights. Why don't patients?" The ad continues, "any legislation should give physicians the final say when it comes to deciding what's medically necessary ... give patients the right to a fair and timely appeal" of denials of treatment and "hold health plans and insurance companies accountable for their actions" (7/8). Another AMA ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer urges readers to contact Pennsylvania Senators Arlen Specter (R) and Rick Santorum (R) and urge them to "vote for patients' rights, not insurance profits." The ad notes that "now the insurance industry is spending tens of millions of dollars to block patients' rights legislation -- because they don't want patients having a real say in their own health care" (7/8).
Meanwhile, in the opposing camp, the Washington Post reports that public relations firm Porter Novelli has acquired the Goddard Claussen public affairs company, famous -- or infamous -- for the "Harry and Louise" ads that helped sink the 1994 Clinton health reforms (McAllister, 7/8). CongressDaily reports that both firms have been "working together with [an] insurance industry client" (7/8).