Health Care Triumph And Tragedy

April 11, 2014

This week brought three big Affordable Care Act headlines:

  • Over 7.5 million people have signed up on the exchanges and 10 million Americans are getting health care for the first time through the Affordable Care Act.
  • Kathleen Sebelius announced she will be resigning asHHS Secretary, leaving on a high note.
  • We learned of the first documented death resulting from the Republican Medicaid cutoff: Charlene Dill, a 32-year-old working mother, dropped dead from an untreated heart condition after Florida Gov. Rick Scott blocked her access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act.

Below find talking points on these three top stories.


Go On Offense. Sadly, Charlene’s story will be echoed throughout the country, as research suggests 10,000 will die this year for lack of insurance because Republican politicians are blocking health coverage for 5 million more Americans. This issue is not yet getting the attention it deserves, but it can be brought into almost any conversation about the Affordable Care Act. We think this issue will be huge this year if we frame it correctly.

Don’t Say “Medicaid Expansion.” As of today, this issue is generally called “Medicaid expansion,” but that blunts the impact of this issue because it’s abstract and evokes growing government, rather than neighbors in need. For the time being, better alternatives are the Medicaid Blockade, Cutoff, or Gap, all of which hint at the real victims here.

Focus On People, Not Programs. Keep the focus on the fate of the people affected, not just the fate of the programs involved. The emotional heart of this issue is the 5 million Americans who are being denied care by Republican governors playing politics. Talk about the thousands like Charlene who will die because of Republican politicians blocking their care.

Read our entire communications strategy memo here.


5 million Americans in 24 states who are eligible for health care under the Affordable Care Act have had their coverage blocked by Republican politicians – mostly governors – in their states. Research suggests around 10,000 of them will die this year for lack of insurance.
These are people like Charlene Dill, a 32-year-old mother of 3 working 3 jobs who dropped dead at work from a heart condition that could have been treated had Florida Governor Rick Scott not blocked her access to healthcare.
These Republican governors are cutting off care that is already paid for with millions of dollars of their constituents’ tax money–money that will go to other states while state residents get stuck paying twice for the costs of emergency care for their uninsured neighbors.
Republican politicians are leaving millions of residents’ tax dollars on the table and they are leaving their neighbors for dead
How many people are going to have to die before Republicans stop this spiteful sabotage? The harsh reality is that Americans whose lives could have been saved will be left to die so Republicans can score political points.


The healthcare rollout had a really rocky start but finished strong. 
And now Secretary Sebelius is resigning “to spend time with…” 10 million Americans who now have health insurance because of this law. 
The untold story of her time at  HHS is that she helped persuade 8 states controlled by Republican governors not to block health care for struggling state residents.
That stands in stark contrast to the Republican politicians who are still cutting 5 million American from needed care.


With 7.5 million signed up on the website and 10 million Americans covered, it’s clear the Affordable Care Act is working. It’s producing real results for real Americans like: 
There are still issues to work out, but 2 out of 3 Americans say we should work out the kinks, not go back to a system where insurance companies are in charge.

KEY:  Connect with your audience |  Make your case |  Show how your opponents differ