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Healthcare

Whole Foods CEO Backtracks on Obama ‘Fascism’ Remark

Whole Foods CEO John MackeyWe know that a PR professional’s job often includes telling powerful people what to say–and when to say it. Today we feel fairly safe offering this little nugget of wisdom to every client: Unless you’re a left-wing Eastern European politician, never use the words “fascist” or “fascism” to describe your opponents, no matter who they may be. It’s never appropriate, and it always makes you look like an ass. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey recently learned that lesson.

Mackey stepped into the national health care debate back in 2009, when he penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed arguing that President Obama‘s signature health care overhaul was a form of “socialism” that would ultimately lead to complete government control over our nation’s health care system.

Now he’s hitting the various media outlets to promote his book Conscious Capitalism, which apparently details the ways in which certain businesses (his own included, of course) make the world a better place without the interference of the big, bad government. While visiting NPR‘s “Morning Edition“, he turned his previous criticism on its head, arguing that:

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Update: Weber Shandwick to Promote Federal Insurance Exchanges

Earlier this week we posted on the deal that Ogilvy PR Worldwide signed to promote the new health insurance law in the state of California.

Now we have a piece of follow-up news: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has hired Weber Shandwick to “raise awareness” about the other state-based healthcare insurance exchanges–those that will be managed by the federal government.

Here’s the lowdown: these exchanges are essentially virtual marketplaces enabling citizens to compare and choose between competing providers’ plans, and they’re one of the central components of The Affordable Care Act, which requires states to create them by January 2013. In states that do not set up exchanges by that date, the federal government will create its own “federally facilitated” exchanges by default—and these are the exchanges to be promoted by Weber Shandwick.

Here’s the challenge: To date, only 13 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to manage their own exchanges.

This is a particularly big get for Shandwick, which was recently named PR News’s “Digital Firm of the Year” just after winning the title of “Global PR Firm of the Year” via The Holmes Report.

The future of the insurance exchange project will be interesting to say the least.

Healthcare Not Yet Mobile: PCs Still Dominate the Market

For all the talk of smartphones and tablets, you’d think every American plugs into an iPad after work each day and that millions of PCs currently sit in the corners of our homes gathering dust. Yet a recent survey conducted by Makovsky reveals that most Americans will stick with Old Reliable when it comes to their most significant expenditures: healthcare.

Despite the vast technological advances driving the evolution of healthcare around the world, healthcare communications remains a very traditional field. The message to PR pros operating in the industry is clear: Most patients prefer old-school human interactions—and tech tools will not necessarily win the day.

We have no doubt that, at some point in the relatively near future, medical research conducted via smartphone will be so easy and common that everyone from your little brother to your grandmother will wonder why they didn’t start doing it sooner. But the Americans who spend the most money on healthcare aren’t quite ready to make that leap just yet.

Here are some of the survey’s key findings: Read more

NAACP Tackling the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the Black Community

The NAACP has launched a campaign, “The Black Church & HIV: A Social Justice Imperative,” an effort designed to use the power and reach of the church to share information about HIV/AIDS with the Black community and help those who have been affected by the deadly disease.

The organization conducted a year-long “research tour,” which informed a manual and a brief that encourages faith leaders to get involved in “HIV advocacy.” On Sunday, the NAACP hosted a “Day of Unity” in Houston, where Blacks made up 42 percent of the more than 4,200 new cases of HIV/AIDS in 2010.

The clip above has some startling numbers about the high number of cases of HIV/AIDS among Blacks. And click here for a helpful infographic.

GlaxoSmithKline to Pay $3 Billion in Largest Healthcare Fraud Settlement in US History

Once again, drug giants are being reminded that the government and the public sort of frown upon pharmaceutical companies doing things like bribing doctors with lavish vacations to get them to prescribe a drug to their patients. And illegally promoting a drug and/or knowingly withholding information about dangerous side effects? Yeah, that’s not okay, either. If previous lawsuits against companies like Pfizer and Eli Lilly didn’t get that point across, the recent settlement with GlaxoSmithKline to the tune of $3 billion just might.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is the largest of the pharmaceutical giants, and has just made the largest settlement of healthcare fraud is U.S.history. The $3 billion settlement included $1 billion for criminal fraud and $2 billion for civil liabilities, to which the company has agreed to plead guilty.

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Affordable Care Act Opens Health Care PR Doors

With the President’s health care reform legislation upheld by the Supreme Court, the question is “Now what?” As we reported last week, PR specialists with health care expertise had already begun their preparations for the decision. Now the next steps have to be taken.

“Lobbyists are bracing for a flood of healthcare regulations now that the Supreme Court has cleared away uncertainty about the reform law’s future,” The Hill reports.

“[W]ith the mandate intact after Thursday’s 5-4 ruling, lobbyists say they’re ready to get down to the nitty-gritty and focus on the regulations that will be created under the sweeping overhaul,” the story continues.

Health care messaging, education, and continued campaigns to further different policies are in our future. Some say things will remain slow because of the summer season. Others think things will quickly accelerate as folks start pushing for changes and making preparations to institute parts of the law.

Al Jackson, MD of Chandler Chicco Companies‘ Washington office, offers three of big takeaways, after the jump.

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Health Care Industry, PR Pros Prepare for Tomorrow’s SCOTUS Ruling

Tomorrow is another big day for the Supreme Court, with the ruling on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care reform legislation, coming down. Everyone will be impacted either which way the decision falls — families, the elderly, those without health insurance, and all of the companies involved in providing, managing, and paying for health care. Those companies, and their PR consultants, have the tough task of preparing for the unknown.

“We’ve been counseling our clients to get out ahead of the decision,” Brendan Daly, EVP and national director of corporate and public affairs at Ogilvy Washington, told us in an email message. “Several health insurance companies proactively communicated that, regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, they would continue popular provisions of the health care law, such as allowing children to remain on their parents’ plan until age 26.”

“No matter how the court rules, the future of health care is changing,” he continued. “Companies should focus on communicating about their contribution to transforming the health care system – how they are working to improve health care delivery and quality of care, while working to reduce costs and waste.”

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Robin Roberts’ Announcement Leads to Bone Marrow Registry Surge

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Last night on ABC World News, George Stephanopoulos announced an astonishing 1,000 percent increase in the number of people registering to become bone marrow donors in the 24 hours following Robin Roberts’ announcement that she has a rare blood and bone marrow disease. Roberts shared the sad news during the GMA broadcast on Monday while sitting side-by-side with her colleagues, including Stephanopoulos.

According to the Be The Match registry, more than 3,600 people have signed up to become potential donors. An average day usually sees between 200 and 300.

Turett Leaving Edelman Health To Start Her Own Business

Edelman vet Nancy Turett is stepping down from her position as chief strategist of the Health and Society group to launch her own consultancy and serve as a part-time senior advisor for Zeno Group. She’s been with the firm for 23 years and was the founder of Edelman’s global health practice in 2000.

During the course of her career with the firm, she’s worked in London, Paris, and New York; led the health group in New York; helped with the company rebrand in 2002; and was a chairperson for Canada and Latin America. More recently, Turett hosted a health event at the Edelman New York HQ in March tied to the firm’s most recent Health Barometer. (We tweeted about it. Be sure to follow us!)

Kym White took on the role of global chair of the health division back in March. She had previously been with Ogilvy PR for 16 years.

UN Focuses on Research, Health Services on World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and the United Nations has placed a focus on how best to help those suffering from autism spectrum disorders and their families.

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, said in a statement that countries around the world need to step up their efforts to address the needs of the autistic, research this disorder, and help those impacted with health services.

“On this Day in New York, Vienna and Geneva, the United Nations Postal Administration is releasing six commemorative postage stamps and two collectible envelopes dedicated to autism awareness.  These tiny pieces of paper — with images created by artists who have been diagnosed with autism — will send a powerful message to people around the world that talent and creativity live inside all of us,” the statement says.

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