B²: House Health Care Bill

Some things just go together and should never be separated – birthdays and cake, October and baseball, Beyoncé and Jay Z.

But a new pair has been making headlines in recent days: the House health care bill and pre-existing conditions.

Every single interview/article/social media post that addresses the AHCA, also addresses pre-existing conditions. This means you have no excuse for stumbling through an answer to a question that addresses both. You will be asked about pre-existing conditions in relation to health care, it’s only a matter of time.

So, let’s practice.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

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

Q: “What about people with pre-existing conditions? Will they lose coverage?”

B²: “No. Coverage for those with pre-existing conditions will remain, even after the Senate makes changes. But as we try to move forward and implement good health care policy, we have to consider not only those with pre-existing conditions, but also those who lost their doctors and plans, and experienced exorbitant price increases, under ObamaCare. <Insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, don’t shy away from the pre-existing conditions debate. This is a complicated issue that will take time to get right. While we wait for Capitol Hill to work it out, now’s the time to have conversations about what ObamaCare got wrong and how we can fix it so good health care policy prevails.

B²: Repeal and Replace is here!

Stop us if you’ve heard this before…”Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced!”

Oh, that’s right. It’s the drumbeat we’ve heard for the past seven years, and last night House Republicans finally delivered.

Officially, leadership has dubbed it the American Health Care Act. Unofficially, some conservative members have nicknamed it ObamaCare Lite and ObamaCare 2.0. But, what’s in a name?

The version released last night is a rough draft to be marked up by a couple committees (Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means) before a full House vote in a couple weeks, which means…THIS WILL BE TOPIC #1 ON MOST REPORTERS’ SHORT LISTS.

You can bet that the more time this process takes, the less forgiving the media will be with their coverage. Reporters will demand specific answers for infighting, delays, and projections of a timeline.

So, what’s the best response you can give?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

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

Q: “There seems to be disagreement among Republicans as to whether this legislation goes far enough to repeal and replace ObamaCare, what’s the likelihood the American Health Care Act will pass Congress and be signed into law?”

B²: “We now have legislation to read and respond to, which is step one. The version released last night will not be the version signed into law. Regardless of what changes the House and Senate make before they vote, solid repeal and replace legislation will include <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, focus on what good legislation will achieve. There is no need to spend 20-30 seconds voicing your frustration with the process (unless your job description says so). Talk policy and not process.

B²: Repeal + Replace

In a few short days, GOP lawmakers have to turn in their repeal legislation for Obamacare – dun dun duuunnnnn.

But that’s probably old news as the mainstream media can’t stop talking about it in ALL CAPS:




Needless to say, people are afraid. The threat of losing health insurance is scary. But like most issues, there is more to the story than these headlines suggest.

So, how can you be the voice of reason and talk about a sensitive issue like Repeal and Replace in a news cycle that expects the worst? With emotion and numbers, of course!

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day!

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

Q: “If Obamacare is repealed, won’t millions be left without insurance?”

B²: “Not at all. Obamacare will be phased out, so the coverage people currently receive will continue until a new patient-centered healthcare system is established. <Insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, spin the narrative to highlight those at greater risk of losing coverage – the 25 million who currently pay out of pocket and receive no subsidies. Adding a data point about premium spikes in your state will help prove the point. We all know someone (maybe it’s you!) who has experienced rate increases and/or loss of access to their doctor. Tell these stories first and then insert a stat or two as evidence.

B²: The Public Option

In what seems to be a surprise to no one – including Dems – ObamaCare is struggling.

In an effort to explain away its issues, the president has diagnosed his signature legislation with growing pains and likened it to a starter home and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (that can’t stop, won’t stop blowing up). “Interesting” comparisons that offer little relief to those affected by ObamaCare’s failure.

Please try again.

But here we are. Today marks the first day of open enrollment for healthcare coverage in 2017, premiums are rumored to increase by 25%, and the only solution offered up by those who voted for ACA is the public option. In other words, let’s rely more heavily on government to fix a government problem.

No thanks.

While questions about ObamaCare are ripe for the picking this week, it’s good to have a strategy to articulate how devastating ObamaCare has been. But how do you develop a good response to pro-ObamaCare questions instead of just simply saying, “I told you so?” 

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: “With frustration nation-wide about ObamaCare’s rising premium costs, shouldn’t we consider pursuing a public option?”

B²: “Absolutely not. The public option actually doubles down on the failures of ObamaCare. And here’s what we know doesn’t work…<insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, talk about ObamaCare’s failure as reason numero uno to back away from a public option. Because Dems agree that ObamaCare isn’t working as it should, use that point of agreement to establish common ground. Then, pivot to a better solution that doesn’t include government interference.

If all else fails? Just call it the “craziest thing in the world.” Worked for Bill Clinton, right?

B²: Sore Loser (SCOTUS Edition)

No one likes a sore loser. Chances are, you probably fall into the “loser” camp for at least one of last week’s SCOTUS decisions.

While the decisions are often controversial – otherwise the case wouldn’t have been considered at the highest court – it rarely helps to spend the little time you have in your interview explaining the intricacies of why you think they were wrong.

Who said it best? Vote for which presidential candidate best spent his or her on-air time reacting to the SCOTUS ruling on marriage here.

Here’s a tip – leave the constitutional debate to the constitutional scholars. Complaining about a decision you can’t change will get you nowhere… fast.

So, do you know how to respond to questions about a SCOTUS decision without sounding like a sore loser?

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: “What are your thoughts on the SCOTUS decision in King v. Burwell?”

: “The Court has spoken about the language in ObamaCare, but what it wasn’t there to address was the effectiveness of ObamaCare. With increasing costs and concerns across this country, we know we must <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, don’t get stuck in the past. Instead, look to the future of health care. While aspects of ObamaCare may be here to stay, focus on what can be done to improve quality of health care for all Americans. You can substitute language for other major SCOTUS rulings; the point is to be respectful, to acknowledge the Court’s limits, and then move to your role in influencing and/or shaping policy.

Solutions always trump problems!

B²: SCOTUS and ObamaCare

Last week, President Obama delivered a pre-emptive strike against this year’s Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance subsidies secured through the federal marketplace.

“There is no reason why the existing exchanges should be overturned through a court case,” Obama said. “It has been well documented that those who passed this legislation never intended for folks who were going through the federal exchange not to have their citizens get subsidies.”

While the Administration has been on the offensive talking about the “intent” of the law, the Supreme Court ruling has the potential to affect 6 million people who signed up for insurance on and the subsidies they receive. This large number of Americans could have cause for worry and panic if solutions aren’t discussed.

It’s complicated. But the B² team is here to help you avoid a messaging position in apparent support of leaving people high and dry, especially those who are struggling to pay for healthcare.

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: “What will all these people do, 6 million of them, if these subsidies are eliminated?”

: “This case is more bad news for those who signed up for insurance on since our President said they could receive subsidies when the law actually says they can’t. The good news is that this opens up opportunities to lower high costs for them and every other American. We can get there by <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, start by maintaining that people have another broken promise from the President. Then, turn to solutions! Focus on the fact that the Affordable Care Act has driven up healthcare costs and disrupted the existing coverage of millions of Americans. And then offer up a plan to remedy the situation. Get specific!

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.