RNC Ad Is Straight Out Of Luntz's Playbook

June 24, 2009 11:00 am ET

On June 23, 2009, the Republican National Committee released an ad regarding the President's plan for health care reform.  Rather than substantively contributing to the debate, the RNC's "Bipartisan" ad rehashes talking points created by insurance industry-funded pollster Frank Luntz.



Today a national TV network turns its airwaves over to President Obama's pitch for government-run health care.

Shouldn't this be a bipartisan discussion?

Republicans want health care reform that reduces costs across the board.

Republicans believe every single American deserves quality health care.

Republicans also believe another government takeover would diminish health care choice and quality. 

President Obama talks about a, quote, public option. When he says "public option," that means putting government bureaucrats in charge, instead of patients and their doctors. It's a bad idea.

Republicans want bipartisan health care reform, a responsible plan that we can afford, where people are free to choose the best care for their families - without a government takeover.

Tell President Obama to work with Republicans, and to stop rushing into another government takeover. [RNC "Bipartisan" Ad, accessed 6/24/09]

RNC's "Bipartisan" Ad Mimics Insurance Industry-Funded Pollster Frank Luntz

Frank Luntz's Clients Include Some Of America's Largest Heath Insurance And Pharmaceutical Companies.  According to the website of Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research, the firm's clients include Blue Cross Blue Shield, Consumer Healthcare Products Association, CIGNA Dental Health, HIP Health Plan of New York and Pfizer. [Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research, accessed 6/17/09]

RNC & Luntz: You Must "Acknowledge The 'Crisis'"

RNC Ad: "Republicans want health care reform that reduces costs across the board." [RNC "Bipartisan" Ad, accessed 6/24/09]

Luntz Memo, Rule 2: "Acknowledge the 'crisis' or suffer the consequences.  If you say there is no healthcare crisis, you give your listener permission to ignore everything else you say.  It is a credibility killer for most Americans. A better approach is to deny the crisis in your terms. [The Language of Healthcare 2009, by Frank Luntz, accessed 5/21/09, emphasis original]

RNC & Luntz: "Government Takeover"

RNC Ad: "Republicans also believe another government takeover would diminish health care choice and quality."  [RNC "Bipartisan" Ad, accessed 6/24/09]

Luntz Memo, Rule 5:  "You'll notice we recommend the phrase 'government takeover' rather than 'government run' or 'government controlled.'"  [The Language of Healthcare 2009, by Frank Luntz, accessed 5/21/09, emphasis original]

"Government takeover" language is fear-mongering, plain and simple.  The government will not absorb the health insurance market.  President Obama and other Democrats have been clear about the public/private hybrid system they are envisioning and the hopes that the creation of a public option will provide some much needed competition to the private health care industry.

  • Health Care Reform Will Be Uniquely American.  Sen. Max Baucus, who is spearheading health care reform from the helm of the Senate Finance Committee, said: "We are not Europe.  We are not Canada...We need a uniquely American solution.  It has to be a partnership of public and private players." [Washington Post, 5/11/09]
  • President Obama: "Keep The Private Sector Honest, Because There's Some Competition Out There."  During the Health Care Summit at the White House, Senator Grassley commented to President Obama, "there's a lot of us that feel that the public option that the government is an unfair competitor and that we're going to get an awful lot of crowd out, and we have to keep what we have now strong, and make it stronger." President Obama replied: "The thinking on the public option has been that it gives consumers more choices, and it helps give -- keep the private sector honest, because there's some competition out there. That's been the thinking. [Health Care Summit, Transcript via Talking Points Memo, 3/5/09]
  • "A Public Plan Would Provide An Essential Option" For Americans.  Harold Pollack, public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration and faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies, wrote in an op-ed: "A public plan would provide an essential option--and an equally essential backup--for millions of Americans living with chronic illnesses or disabilities." [The New Republic, 3/10/09]
  • Sen. Baucus: The Reformed Health Care System "Will Be A Public/Private Hybrid." The American Prospect published a quote of Senator Baucus saying: "We need health insurer reform to get rid of preexisting conditions and other ways insurers discriminate. That's part of our plan here, and the CEOs of many larger insurance companies are on board. They know this change is coming. They may lose the current model but they pick up on volume with 46 million people coming into the system...And that will be a public/private hybrid. There may come a time when we can push for single payer. But that time is not yet, and so I'm not going to waste my time." [The American Prospect, accessed 3/6/09]

RNC & Luntz: "Bureaucrats"

RNC Ad: "President Obama talks about a, quote, public option. When he says 'public option,' that means putting government bureaucrats in charge, instead of patients and their doctors. It's a bad idea." [RNC "Bipartisan" Ad, accessed 6/24/09]

Luntz Memo, Rule 7: "The idea that a  'committee of Washington bureaucrats' will establish the standard of care for all Americans and decide who gets what treatment based on how much it costs is anathema to Americans.  Your approach?  Call for the 'protection of the personalized doctor-patient relationship.'"  [The Language of Healthcare 2009, by Frank Luntz, accessed 5/21/09, emphasis original]

Right now, there are bureaucrats standing between Americans and their doctors - insurance company bureaucrats.  

  • Insurance Bureaucrats Stand Between Americans And Their Doctors.  Dr. Howard Dean said on MSNBC: "Right now there is a bureaucrat between you and your doctor, and it's that private health insurance bureaucrat." [MSNBC transcript and video via MadvilleTimes, accessed 6/17/09]

The "crisis" is very real and shouldn't simply be given lip service.  Americans cannot afford health care if they are purchasing as an individual, have a history of illness, or.....

  • "Twenty Percent Of Americans Say They Have Delayed Or Postponed Medical Care, Mostly Doctor Visits, And Many Said Cost Was The Main Reason." According to MSNBC: "Twenty percent of Americans say they have delayed or postponed medical care, mostly doctor visits, and many said cost was the main reason, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters released on Monday. That figure is up since 2006, the last time the question was asked on the survey, when 15.9 percent of people said they had postponed or canceled medical care in the past year." [MSNBC.com, 4/20/09]
  • Without COBRA Or Other Health Coverage, People "Are More Likely To Forgo Needed Medical Care And Incur Medical Debt."  A December 2008 report released by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured stated: "many workers find that after losing a job they are not able to afford the premiums required to continue employer-sponsored insurance through COBRA...Without insurance, these adults are more likely to forgo needed medical care and incur medical debt.  They are also at risk of having their health problems treated as pre-existing conditions if they later regain employer-sponsored coverage."  [KFF.org, accessed 1/14/09]
  • 2008 Study: "The Total Premiums To Cover A Family Are Up To $12,680."  The National Conference of State Legislatures reported: "In 2008 the average fully insured individual faced an employee share of $725 for 1-person coverage and a $3,354 annual share for family coverage.  The total premiums to cover a family are up to $12,680 according to the annual Kaiser/HRET survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits." [NCSL.org, accessed 1/13/09, emphasis added]