05 August 2010
Research Findings—Implementing Health Reform: A Communications Perspective
August 19, 2010
By Lake Research Partners, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, and The Herndon Alliance
These results are a culmination of:1) Conducted April 19-25, 2010
1,000 likely voters
Anzalone Liszt Research
2) Conducted July 8-19, 2010
8 focus groups: Las Vegas, Charlotte, Philadelphia, St. Louis
with seniors, blue collar women, voters under 40, Latinos, and rural and suburban St. Louis women
Lake Research Partners
3) Conducted July 29 – August 1, 2010
Online survey of 2,000 likely voters
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research
Why conduct this research?
- Present positive case for reform
- Make gains in support and build resistance to repeal (blue collar women, Latinos, seniors, young voters)
- Provide communications tools to address health reform
- Straightforward 'policy' defenses fail to be moving voters' opinions about the law.
- Public is disappointed, anxious, and depressed by current direction of country—not trusting.
- Voters are concerned about rising health care costs and believe costs will continue to rise.
- Women in particular are concerned that health law will mean less provider availability—scarcity an issue.
- Many don't believe health reform will help the economy.
Use personal stories—coupled with clear, simple descriptions of how the law works—to convey critical benefits of reform. These stories need to be credible, not complicated, and relatable to the audience cyou are speaking to , and first person voice preferred.
Example of personal story:
"My name is Lindsay. I'm 23 years old and I have a 6 year old son named Jacob who has asthma. We got our health insurance from my husband's employer, but he lost his job recently. He found a new job that pays OK, but his new health insurance company will not give Jacob coverage because he has a pre-existing condition. I wait table too, but we just can't afford to pay medical expenses out of pocket. I know the new health insurance law isn't perfect, but starting in September, it will be illegal for insurance companies to deny children with pre-existing conditions healthcare coverage. I can't tell you what a relief it is to me that Jacob will get the care that he needs. I really hope this law does not get repealed."
Note: 29% of respondents said that the phrase "pre-existing condition" stood out to them; 47% said that the phrase "children with pre-existing conditions" stood out.
- Let voters know the healthcare law passed!
- Focus on the core provisions that voters value and keep it simple (top tier: end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions for adults and children, lifetime caps, and dropping people when they get sick; second tier: providing small business tax credits to help secure coverage for their employees and requiring insurers to provide no-cost coverage of preventive care)
- Keep claims small and credible; don't overpromise or 'spin' what the law delivers.
- Use transition or bridge language to meet public where they are and relax their defenses:
"The law is not perfect, but it does good things and helps many people. Now we'll work to improve it."
- Address provider scarcity and cost concerns. Let public know that the rich (income over $200,000/$250,000 annually) will see a tax increase to pay for it and that an unprecedented number of new health care providers are being trained.
- Avoid overheated political rhetoric.
- Tap into individual responsibility to blunt opposition to the mandate to have health insurance:
"Those without insurance who use the emergency room for routine care are increasing costs for the rest of us who have insurance."
- Women are ideal messengers and rectifying inequities in women's health stands out as a key benefit of reform.
- Supporters of the law and those campaigning need to highlight that Members of Congress will participate in the same plan.
- It is critical to reassure seniors that Medicare will not be cut. Free preventive care is also important for seniors.
- Tell non-college educated women that the health care law passed. Explain what is in the law and how it will affect them. Let them know thy can keep the coverage they have now.
- Tell Latinos that the health care law passed, explain what is in the law and how it will affect them by using a personal story. (Congress will participate in the same plans, help for children and small businesses, lower income families will be helped through premiums based on a 'sliding scale.')
- For those voters under 40, focus on a personal story about a younger person that includes key provision. Don't make grand claims about the law. Use 'improve it' language.
The Following Don't Connect with the Public
- Assuming public knows the health reform law passed, or if they know it passed, that they understand how it will affect them
- Listing off benefits outside of any personal context
- Assuming the public understands the law and how it will affect them
- Barraging voters with a long list of benefits
- Using complex language or insider jargon
- Using heated political rhetoric or congratulatory language
- Saying the law will reduce costs and deficit