B²: King v. Burwell

Washington attorneys aren’t alone in their efforts to gear up for another round of oral arguments before the Supreme Court.  Communicators everywhere are realizing that most Americans aren’t aware the Court will once again be deciding how the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or ObamaCare, affects them.

We are experiencing déjà vu since the case has potential to decide the future of the law. We eagerly await the moment when news correspondents flood down the steps to report bits of news, guessing at what the Justices are thinking.  But, we’ve learned to refrain from predicting what the Supreme Court will do.

This time, the Court will be looking at how the government may provide subsidies to people buying health insurance through the federal exchanges the law created.

It’s complicated, but the B² team is here to help you wade through the complexity and get to your simple message.  We expect questions that are loaded with phrases such as “take away,” and “eliminating.”  So how do you avoid the trap of a messaging position in apparent support leaving people high and dry, especially those who are struggling to pay for healthcare?  That message would make you seem callous to the concerns of Americans sitting at their kitchen tables everywhere.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “The Supreme Court is deciding whether or not those on federal exchanges can “take away”/“eliminate” subsidies.  If the Court rules that these subsidies aren’t adhering to the law, how will these people pay for healthcare?”

: “That is a concern.  And while we agree that healthcare should be of high quality and affordable, that isn’t what we are seeing.  What’s happening is Americans are being taxed even more to be able to offset the high costs of insurance premiums. <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, realize that saying, “we need to eliminate subsidies” or anything in that vein makes it sound like you want to make it harder for low-income individuals to pay for insurance.

Instead, first find common ground and then talk about whether or not it’s lawful for Americans to be taxed more to pay for the inflated costs of health care.  Then, move to your talking point on a solution to get to quality, affordable health care.

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