Big bucks tied to health care battle


Even those completely happy with health care in the US and utterly opposed to any changes whatsoever seem resigned to the idea that change – some kind of change – is coming. But just what those changes will be is very much in the air. It’s an issue in which everybody is a stakeholder, resulting in a boiling cauldron of entities ready to spend money to raise their voice up above the din.

One group that has been relatively quiet thus far is just now getting into the game – members of the health insurance industry. According to Politico, even that industry is proceeding as though change is inevitable. It’s said to be dropping seven figures into a national cable campaign calling for affordable insurance for everybody, but also “sending a strong don’t-tread-on-us message.”

Pharmaceuticals have been taking a middle approach – universal coverage, after all, would lead to selling more drugs. It has taken the insurance industy’s iconic TV personalities from the Clinton health care debate and resurrected them, the difference being that this time they’re in favor of reform. The industry is spending $4M in partnership with consumers groups to bring the couple back to life.

Not least among active combatants is the campaign arm of Barack Obama’s operation. It’s aggressively targeting members of Congress – mostly in Obama’s own party – putting on pressure to support Obama’s program. Among the targeted, according to Huffington Post, are Zack Space (D-OH), John Barrow (D-GA), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Mike Ross (D-AR), Bart Gordon (D-TN), Baron Hill (D-IN), Charlie Melancon (D-LA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Bart Stupak (D-MI), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Fred Upton (R-MI), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Greg Walden (R-OR) AND, Sue Myrick (R-NC)

RBR/TVBR observation: This is as good an issue as one could hope for insofar as keeping some cash flowing into the political category during an election off-year. And in our market, at least, it’s been good for a couple of congressional incumbents, who have been the recipients of favorable advertising from the pharmaceutical industry.