Industry Seeks to Shape U.S. Healthcare Reform

After "President Barack Obama revealed a $634 billion plan for healthcare as part of his proposed budget," the healthcare industry and its PR firms sought to secure "a seat at the table." The head of Burson-Marsteller's U.S. healthcare practice, Chris Foster, noted that drug and insurance companies are "going to have to deliver on the promise of improving access, delivering more quality [and] controlling the cost of medications," so they should "be involved in that dialogue earlier rather than later." Rather than lobbying against measures like "mandatory pre-existing coverage for health plans," he suggested that companies tell the administration that "in order for that to work for us, here are two or three things we have to have in place." Drugmaker AstraZeneca will focus on "market competition," claiming it "leads to improvements in health outcomes." Insurance company Cigna is working to "simplify those issues" for its consumers. Burson-Marsteller's Foster faults the industry for a lack of leadership on healthcare reform. "There are certainly companies that are big enough and are doing important enough work that can and they should begin to lead. The mistake would be to not engage in this national dialogue earlier," he warned. "Communication drives policy."