PhRMA, AMA ads tie healthcare access to economy

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PhRMA and the AMA are jumping on the healthcare reform bandwagon with a TV ad calling for a healthcare fix to help the ailing economy.

A coalition of six organizations, including PhRMA and the AMA as well as the Service Employees Industrial Union (SEIU), American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), Regence BlueCross BlueShield and the liberal advocacy group Families USA, is airing the ad, which juxtaposes imagery of factory workers with the voiceover: “At a time when American businesses are hurting, why should we worry about fixing healthcare? Because quality, affordable healthcare can save money and make businesses more competitive.”

The spot, airing on cable news networks, network news shows and Sunday morning news shows, is aimed in part at demonstrating unanimity among groups with often divergent interests in healthcare policy.

PhRMA president and CEO Billy Tauzin said in a statement: “Expanding access to quality and affordable health insurance is good for patients and good for our economy. Improved access means we can do more to promote prevention and more to detect and treat conditions at an early stage, when we can do the most to avoid poor health outcomes and costly complications of chronic diseases, which account for seven out of every 10 deaths in America.”

It's not the first time PhRMA has collaborated with strange bedfellows like SEIU. The union and PhRMA, together with health advocacy and industry groups, co-sponsored an October ad by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. The TV ad, starring Mary-Louise Parker, Lauren Bacall, Katey Sagal and Phylicia Rashad, urged women to “Nag, kvetch, annoy, demand” more spending on prevention of chronic diseases and to “Vote like your health depends on it.”

PhRMA also ran October ads praising senators and representatives for supporting an expansion of SCHIP, the children's health insurance program, in their home media markets. In November, PhRMA ran a national ad, featuring Montel Williams, emphasizing preventative treatment of chronic illnesses to lower costs and save lives, stating that “Everyone should have affordable health insurance.” 

Families USA and ACS CAN were part of another coalition that resurrected Harry and Louise in an October TV spot to demand that the next president prioritize healthcare reform. The AMA launched its multi-million dollar "Voice for the Uninsured" advertising and PR campaign aimed at pressuring policymakers in 2007.
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