THE UNINSURED: Harry and Louise, Part II
"Harry and Louise", the fictional suburban husband and wife whose views helped defeat President Clinton's health care plan in 1994, are back in a new series of TV ads about helping the uninsured. The AP/Las Vegas Sun reports that the ads, which started Tuesday on CNN and locally in Washington, D.C., are designed to help the "epidemic" of the uninsured in America, with Harry saying, "We can't leave working families and kids without insurance." The Health Insurance Association of America, sponsor of both campaigns, said there is "nothing strange about the poster couple warning about the effects of universal coverage now taking sides with those who would benefit from it." Chip Kahn, president of HIAA said, "It's not that different from 1993-1994. We were concerned with the unintended consequence of the Clinton plan."
Change of Heart
HIAA's new initiative, titled InsureUSA, is intended to help provide coverage to the estimated 44 million uninsured Americans through expanded government programs and changes to the tax code, which would help individuals and small businesses afford coverage (1/18). The ads, which state that "coverage is the cure," seek to help poor children and adults who comprise 58% of the uninsured. Ideally, the plan would cover 7.5 million children in families with incomes up to 200% of the poverty line, plus 16 million adults. In their 1994 campaign, HIAA spent more than $15 million to derail the Clinton universal health care proposal, with the infamous Harry and Louise commercials airing in more than a dozen media markets and reaching 40% of the population (DeMarco, Washington Times, 1/19). By "hauling Harry and Louise out of retirement," the insurance industry hopes to broaden the debate about the uninsured. Kahn stated that although the Democratic presidential candidates are both discussing the issue, the group wants to energize Republican candidates. "We want to get their attention. The initial campaign is small, but the group is looking at expanding it over time" he said (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 1/18).