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#PR Woes: Obama and His Health Plan
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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The Administration’s woes with respects to the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, seem to continue. A recent article by Karl Rove in the WSJ strongly hints at a major Democratic problem with the mid-term elections next year; it is a known fact that not a single Republican in either house of Congress voted for the measure back in 2010, while all Democrats did. The article by Karl Rove says that many of the act’s strongest supporters in 2010 are now trying to distance themselves from both the Obamacare legislation and the continued problems with its implementation.
 
The WSJ also published an article this week noting the continued controversies surrounding the president’s signature legislative accomplishment have hurt him politically.

The piece, titled Poll: Health Law Hurts President Politically and authored by Neil King Jr. and Alan Prang, commented thusly:

The federal health-care law is becoming a heavier political burden for President Barack Obama and his party, despite increased confidence in the economy and the public's own generally upbeat sense of well-being, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests.

Disapproval of Mr. Obama's job performance hit an all-time high in the poll, at 54%, amid the flawed rollout of the health law. Half of those polled now consider the law a bad idea, also a record high.

The survey of 1,000 adults conducted between Dec. 4 and Dec. 8 found a sharp erosion since January in many of the attributes—honesty, leadership, ability to handle a crisis—that had kept Mr. Obama aloft through the economic and political turmoil of his first term.

Most telling, the same article noted the new poll “illustrated a deepening distaste for all Washington institutions. More than half of those polled rated the current Congress as one of the worst ever, by far the most negative verdict going back to 1990. ... In all, the health-care law came in for rough treatment more than two months after it became apparent that technical problems were bedeviling the online marketplaces for buying insurance policies. Millions of Americans received notices that their policies were being canceled because they didn't meet standards in the law, yet had trouble using government websites to buy new policies. In a sign that may not bode well for the president, the law's unpopularity jumped the most among the uninsured, who stand to be among the main beneficiaries of the law. Fully half of uninsured Americans now think the law was a bad idea. In September, 34% saw it that way.”

If the poll is bad for the Obama Administration in particular and Democrats in general, the Republicans, says the article, seem to have “a slight edge, 44% to 42%, on which party they would like to see control Congress next year. Republicans also have made substantial gains this year in terms of public perceptions on which party would do a better job on a number of key issues. For the first time since 1995, the Republicans now enjoy a double-digit advantage on handling of the economy. The GOP also has whittled away substantially on the longstanding Democratic advantage on which party can best handle health care."

The political season next year is going to be an interesting one. It remains to be seen, from a PR viewpoint, if the Obama Administration can surmount the bad PR over its Obamacare program (cancelled coverages, issues with the website since the October rollout, low enrollment among the younger segment of voters, concerns over identity theft, etc.). As I have noted before in these blogs, good PR successfully uses perceptions as well as facts to deliver its message.

Have Obama and his minions delivered good PR when it comes to Obamacare? I will let you decide.


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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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