What we learned was that 80% of polled Americans favored major healthcare reform. We also learned that this percentage radically dropped to below 30% when a specific policy was introduced. And finally, we learned that the vast majority of the voting population was already insured.
What we needed to hear was what the public wanted.
Two questions needed answering. How could we frame the issue of reform and access to health care to help those with insurance coverage understand that reform was critical for them? And, how could we move the population to create a majority of voters who, even when a policy was introduced, continued to favor healthcare reform?
In 2006 and 2007 we conducted research to answer both of these questions. We found that it was indeed possible to show those with insurance how important reform was for them, and that it was possible to move people toward supporting a specific policy for reform, if we framed the issues in specific ways that resonated with the public.
Herndon Alliance worked to make these finding public on state and national levels. We collaborated with our partner organizations to provide briefings to the staff members of presidential and congressional campaigns, coordinated with pro-reform organizations like AARP, SEIU, and many others, and trained advocates in messaging, always with the goal of ensuring that as many people as possible were talking about healthcare reform — together.
On March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law, guaranteeing security and stability for the insured and access for 32 million uninsured Americans for the first time in our nation’s history. This would not have occurred were it not for the tireless efforts by tens of thousands of advocates and millions of ordinary Americans, speaking together in a unified voice for reform.
Our work is far from over. Health care reform must now be properly implemented, and improvements must be made. If we are to preserve the gains made by the law and build on this foundation, the American public must understand what the law means for them. We must overcome fear and mistrust, and we must once again use our collective voice to connect with the public on the values we share as Americans.