The August message comes together on reform

THE AUGUST MESSAGE COMES TOGETHER ON REFORM…. Opponents of health care reform successfully pushed for a series of delays with the hope that conservatives could kill the effort over the August recess. Supporters of reform are preparing to make sure that doesn’t happen. DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) told Chris Cillizza, “We are not going to allow supporters of the status quo to swift-boat health care reform in August.”

The message doesn’t seem especially complicated: tie reform opponents to the unpopular insurance industry. Greg Sargent obtained a copy of a script a liberal group will use to target GOP lawmakers over the break:

“The insurance industry makes more than $15 billion a year in profits. Now that money is going to fight health care reform. In Washington, opponents of health care reform are spending more than a million dollars a day, just on lobbying alone. On top of that, the insurance companies give millions to the politicians who support them.

“Congressman Roy Blunt has taken more than half a million dollars from the insurance industry. No wonder he’s against reform that will lower costs, give us more choices, and keep the insurance companies honest. Meanwhile we are left paying more than three times what members of Congress pay for good health care. It seems that Roy Blunt is against anything that will hurt the insurance companies’ bottom line. Call Roy Blunt and tell him to side with us, not the insurance companies.”

Similarly, Brian Beutler reports on a strategy memo distributed to members of the House Democratic caucus, which emphasizes the importance of holding insurance companies accountable. The memo argues:

Remove them from between you and your doctor. No discrimination for pre-existing conditions. No dropping your coverage because you get sick. No more job or life decisions made based on loss of coverage. No need to change doctors or plans. No co-pays for preventive care. No excessive out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, or co-pays. No yearly or lifetime cost caps on what insurance companies cover.

It’s the consumer-focused message embraced by the White House, coupled with the insurance-industry criticism that, I imagine, polls well.

Democrats are reportedly calling their effort “Health Care ER” — ER for “emergency response” — that will include radio ads, online activism, and traditional grassroots activities, though it’s unclear how much money is behind the recess campaign.

It’s obviously intended to, at a minimum, match the right’s efforts. With a little luck and effective messaging, reform advocates might even end up in a better position after the recess than before it.