WASHINGTON: Drugmaker Pfizer, through its public affairs agency Spectrum Science, hopes to open dialogue about, and ultimately reform, the nation's healthcare system.
Ceasefire on Healthcare - conceived by Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) and funded by Pfizer and American University - brings together politicians and academics on different ends of the political spectrum to participate in forums on health policy.
"The thrust of the campaign ... is to make incremental changes," said Claire Barnard, director of public affairs at Spectrum Science, which is overseeing the effort. "I think the public is really yearning for this. I think people are tired of turning on the TV and seeing all the name calling."
The program, which kicked off last June, centers on public forums, with the likes of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) at the National Press Club; similar press events have featured the Brookings Institution and Heritage Foundation. C-Span has been covering the events.
In 2006, Barnard noted that the program would be "more substantive" as Breaux introduces recommendations for specific policy changes.
Spectrum Science is charged with identifying events and media opportunities to promote the program, including "town hall" type events. They are also working with pollsters to gauge public opinion.
"I think we've been very effective at extracting certain elements," said Barnard.