WASHINGTON: Porter Novelli has begun to feel the aftershocks of the
power shift in the US Senate, as it finds itself faced with the
now-imminent vote on a patients' bill of rights. The Health Benefits
Coalition (HBC), a PN client for the past three years, is the primary
force advocating against the legislation.
The Senate came under Democratic control two weeks ago following
Jim Jeffords' departure from the GOP. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), the new
majority leader, has announced his intention to bring a patients' bill
of rights to the floor quickly - something that was not previously on
HBC, a coalition representing 32 organizations such as the Business
Roundtable, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of
Manufacturers, is opposed to the bill on the grounds that by giving
employees the power to sue their HMOs, premiums will rise and employers
will be forced to foot the bill.
Suzy Defrancis, SVP and director of public affairs at PN, said the
agency has been forced to ramp up its efforts to prepare for the coming
"We've added more people to the account," she said, and cited activities
including gathering the results of new polling data; launching a print,
radio and TV ad campaign; producing briefing books, position papers and
material to go to the Hill; and holding a press briefing next week.
HBC was formed in 1998 and has retained PN as its public affairs agency