CONTEST: If I were Obama, or explaining health reform to a child


Readers, as most of you probably know, tonight President Obama is going to go on live national television and make a pitch for his health reform vision. Unfortunately, given the Administration's track record of intellectualizing, inside baseball and changes in direction, it's not likely that most Americans are going to walk away saying "Wow! I understand health reform perfectly. Give me some of that!"

The thing is, most of us, both in and outside the industry, agree that there are many reforms that need to be made, some of which President Obama has been working hard to communicate. Admittedly, many are not simple concepts--as I've previously noted, value-based purchasing is a fairly muddy concept even for the pros--but I do think the million-dollar communications pros that work in national politics could do much better.

Or maybe it's up to you. In the spirit of The Washington Post's beloved Style Invitational, which throws writing problems out to readers and gives winners their 15 minutes of fame, I'm throwing down the gauntlet on health reform communication.

I'm challenging each and every one of you to see if you can come up with five to ten statements that capture the essence of ongoing health reform efforts, each of which could be understood by a bright middle-schooler. If we get enough entries, we'll feature the winner and award them a slightly scratched-and-dented copy of Michael Moore's Sicko (or comparable conservative film if preferred.) Ideally, they'll be statements which capture the Obama administrations platform, merely to keep things simple, but if you're truly inspired, lay out your own.

Email your statements to me at [email protected] Each and every one will be read. Brevity counts, and political extremes are discouraged (consensus, remember?) The winning entry will be sent to other media outlets and blogs, who, in all honesty will probably ignore it, but we'll put it out there. So let's get at it. Surely we can do a better job than what we're getting? - Anne

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