The clock was ticking. Critical state funding for New York’s teaching hospitals, as well as money to treat uninsured patients, was at risk.
The clock was ticking. Critical state funding for New York’s
teaching hospitals, as well as money to treat uninsured patients, was at
To keep the money rolling in, Republican governor George Pataki had to
sign the Health Care Reform Act 2000 by December 31, 1999.
The previous legislation, the Health Care Reform Act of 1996, allocated
more than dollars 1 billion annually to hospitals for critically
important programs, and the revised bill proposed increased aid for the
uninsured, while preserving money for teaching hospitals.
The likelihood of the 2000 bill passing was not promising. Although the
state assembly had passed the proposal in the summer, it was unclear how
the senate would act. The governor also had not made a decision.
To campaign in favor of the bill, the Greater New York Hospital
Association and 1199 Service Employees International Union formed the
Healthcare Education Project. The project also pushed a program called
Family Health Plus, which wanted to use money from both the state’s
settlement with tobacco companies and increased cigarette taxes to
expand health coverage to uninsured New Yorkers.
Though a majority of New Yorkers favored the 2000 act’s provisions,
according to the project’s own polling, an education campaign was needed
to convert that support into action. ’The public had no idea what HCRA
or Family Health Plus was,’ notes Kenneth Raske, president of the
Greater New York Hospital Association.
The Healthcare Education Project spent the summer organizing and by fall
announced the start of a multimillion-dollar campaign to educate New
Yorkers about the bill.
In October, the project held press conferences in New York City and
Albany to announce the campaign, generating press coverage in many of
the major dailies.
An extensive paid TV and radio advertising campaign was also waged,
emphasizing the precariousness of the situation with the line, ’Years of
health care cuts have a lot of us walking a tightrope - another round of
health care cuts could put us all at risk.’ Each commercial ended with
800 numbers so people could order packets with postcards to send to
Moreover, the project launched a massive direct mail effort, and its web
site helped visitors send e-mail to their legislators. And to broaden
the lobbying effort, large posters with attached postcards addressed to
Pataki and state senators were placed in hospitals.
Citizen Action, a member of the project, held town hall meetings where
uninsured people could explain their plight. Additionally, hospital
board members were urged to speak on behalf of the bill throughout their
Efforts were also made to mobilize the religious community behind HCRA
About 35,000 people responded to the TV and radio ads. In response to
the direct mail and poster efforts, over 250,000 postcards were sent to
Pataki’s office, while 200,000 went to state senators.
The legislature reconvened in mid-December. A deal was struck, and both
bodies passed the consensus legislation. The governor signed the bill on
New Yorkers will still have their teaching hospitals funded and
healthcare coverage will be expanded.
Client: Healthcare Education Project
PR Team: Morris, Carrick & Guma (campaign strategy and advertising);
Kiley & Company (opinion research); GNYHA Public Affairs and Sunshine
Campaign: HCRA 2000
Time Frame: July to December 1999
Budget: about dollars 10 million (80% for advertising; 20% for
grass-roots and PR)