The Future of Health Care Policy Is Not in Washington

The Senate’s halt of efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) saved the GOP from a protracted debate that threatened to expose a chasm in the party even larger than the much-ballyhooed divide between the House and Senate. The bigger split in this debate lies between the federal government and state policymakers, including governors of the same party as the president and congressional leaders, who ultimately have the responsibility of implementing these proposals.

The impasse at the federal level will shift the policy-making center of gravity away from D.C. Companies that want to have an influential voice in the health care arena should be increasing their focus on governors and state legislatures. Day-to-day policy decisions will continue to expand at the state level. As that happens, frustration by these officials, largely due to their perceived lack of impact at the federal level, will continue to motivate them to be more aggressive in setting the agenda.

Here’s what this means for state and local governments:

Devolution: The legislative package that cleared the House of Representatives included a limited block grant program for federal funding. States have long called for this and consider this aspect of the House plan to be a positive as it provides for more flexibility in program implementation, i.e. allowing local approaches to address the needs of local populations. However, most states have already gone through major adjustments required to expand Medicaid coverage and do not want to make huge changes again in such a short time frame. Nor do they welcome the notion of being saddled with expanded costs that were coupled with the new funding mechanisms. The idea of devolution – shifting accountability and costs from federal bureaucracies to state bureaucracies – became very popular with D.C. budget-cutters and fiscal conservatives interested in reducing the national outlays for health care.

Operating on a Tight Budget: Budget writers on Capitol Hill should remember that when addressing potential funding shortfalls, state legislatures have even less wiggle room than the federal government because most are required to live under a balanced budget – an idea long forgotten inside the Beltway. Expansions in state Medicaid coverage and ensuing cost increases must be offset by equal amounts of reductions in services, cuts from other parts of the state budget, or, an anathema to red state law makers, tax increases.

Governors Weigh In: The National Governors Association (NGA), through a bipartisan effort, released a set of recommendations aimed at addressing the needs of the constituents their members serve, as well as the financial constraints that come with public health care programs. The recommendations; however, begin with a general concern regarding the health of the partnership between the two governing levels

To address the troubling precedent in the decision-making framework as it currently exists, the NGA asks for a more active engagement to discuss policy changes. It also calls for a transition period to allow for adjustments to potential changes, and concluded the overarching principles on partnerships with a caution for national lawmakers:

“Supporting vulnerable populations is a shared responsibility between the federal government and states. It is critical that Congress continue to maintain a meaningful federal role in this partnership and not shift costs to states. Significant cuts to Medicaid will impact coverage for millions of low-income individuals and could impede state efforts to address the underlying factors driving health care costs, such as pharmaceuticals, long-term care and the social determinants of health.”

As a leading national grassroots firm, we appreciate the position of the governors and their attempt to expand the dialogue on critical domestic issues like health care to include the local perspective. Repeal, replace, expand or cut. The support of constituents and state policy leaders will be critical for success, no matter what direction Congress chooses.

This blog post was written by Brian Noyes, Executive Vice President, Direct Impact (a subsidiary of Burson-Marsteller).

Naughty Bags are not your typical condoms.

The Dieline – September 6, 2017

These are not your typical condoms. Cramer-Krasselt have teamed up with nonprofit Diverse & Resilient to create a new brand of condoms aimed at helping lower teen pregnancy rates.

“In an effort to reduce the high rates of teen-pregnancy in Milwaukee, two local organizations are launching a new brand of condoms, ‘Naughty Bags’, available free of charge in neighborhoods with high teen pregnancy rates.

Milwaukee has a teen pregnancy rate three times that of the national average and STD rates are equally high. Naughty Bags aim to increase awareness of the importance of sexual health, motivate young adults to make safe sexual choices and engage with the community to create positive change.

Naughty Bags are not your typical condoms. Using information gathered from focus groups with urban young adults and research on their sexual behavior, Cramer-Krasselt, an integrated marketing and communications agency, and community partner Diverse & Resilient, a nonprofit whose mission is to improve the well-being of Wisconsin’s LGBTQ community, recognized that this unique problem required a unique solution. The current messages just are not working.”

“Milwaukee’s youth are familiar with the benefits of safe sex, and the Naughty Bags brand was designed to help keep that knowledge top-of-mind, while taking away the intimidation factor. Everything from the Naughty Bags name, to the artwork, to the individual names (like ‘Scuba Gear’ and ‘Papa Stopper’) that appear on each condom wrapper, were developed with the teens’ feedback in mind. Ideas for accessible distribution channels were also developed to help teens and young adults most in need.

Diverse & Resilient will be distributing Naughty Bags through their existing 414ALL free condom program all around Milwaukee. Additionally, Naughty Bags will be available in community barbershops that will house condom dispensers and also through discreet pickup locations (disguised as newspaper stands) throughout the Milwaukee ZIP codes that need them most.

All distribution locations can be found on the Naughty Bags website.”

The post Naughty Bags are not your typical condoms. appeared first on Cramer krasselt.

Sharing our branding advice with the New York Stock Exchange

We are passionate about startup companies at Moving Brands and are fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs from across the globe, including Uber, Asana and Flipboard.

When the New York Stock Exchange approached us to provide a chapter for its new book ‘The Entrepreneur’s Roadmap: From Concept to IPO’, we were confident that we had valuable advice for anyone looking to set up.

We always stress to any startup we work with the importance of carving a meaningful brand space for itself within its market. Having seen the benefits of this approach first-hand, our chapter naturally goes on to explain ‘Why Startups Should Spend on Brand’.

In the book, we look at how a startup can shape its identity through its story, structure and customer experience. We have found that this approach ensures a new business develops an authentic, engaging identity that helps inform all the other practical choices for a successful brand, such as tone of voice and color palette.

It’s true, in the hectic early days of establishing a startup, it can seem more important to focus on developing your product, hiring your team, setting budgets and identifying funding, and considering when and how to scale up. It can also be hard to justify the expense and time required to develop a killer brand.

However, we firmly believe that putting time, thought and energy into branding right at the start of a business delivers direct benefits in the long term. A strong identity can attract investment, with well-thought-through brands securing higher valuations from venture capitalist firms.

Our chapter includes the advice that your brand experience should flow throughout the business, whether that is the micro-interactions in an app, the conversational exchange of a chatbot, or the motion design of a web page. This is where the magic of your brand lies, and the things that customers remember about your company. Helping you to stand out from competitors in a ‘sea of sameness’.

To read the chapter of the book in full, download it here.

The post Sharing our branding advice with the New York Stock Exchange appeared first on Moving Brands – an independent, global creative company.

More than just hospitals should fight the opioid epidemic

Hospitals, insurance companies, drug companies! It’s time to communicate with consumers about the opioid crisis. It’s not a choice, it’s a responsibility. Exploration and study of this issue has taught us the power of advertising is part of the solution, but it is not enough on its own. As the ‘third bucket’ of necessary hospital communications activities (same group of initiatives as lectures on diabetes control, weight management, etc.) hospitals need to show care for their populations by communicating to them about the risks of opioid usage beyond prescription and the risk of evolving to other drugs like heroin. In addition to helping society and fighting against a tragic trend, this imparts much strength to a hospital brand and its role in combating an epidemic like no other. The same goes for insurance companies and drug companies. Fighting against the opioid epidemic not only helps society, it helps improve their brand image.


Opioid Epidemic Advertising

Opioid abuse affects everyone

Were the Prime Minister’s Eyes Too Big for Her Stomach on Executive Pay?

By Meg Powell-Chandler, Director, Public Affairs

There are two important skills in politics – the ability to identify the problem, and the ability to identify a workable and achievable solution to it. Theresa May’s Government has been very successful at the first, think back to her speech on the steps of Downing Street which was welcomed across the political divide for identifying the social and economic problems that face this country.

Where it has been less successful – and the General Election result was a consequence of this – is that the solutions to these social and economic problems have failed one or both of two tests: popularity and achievability.

Turning to the issue of Corporate Governance, the Prime Minister came into office with radical words. In the very short leadership campaign set against the context of Sir Philip Green and Mike Ashley, she stated “the people who run big businesses are supposed to be accountable to outsiders” and committed to employee representatives on company boards, increased transparency around pay ratios and binding shareholder votes on corporate pay.(1)

These policies were based on the idea that it doesn’t matter how much you improve the lot of the people at the bottom and the middle, they will always compare their lot to those at the top. The approach that gave rise to her political mantra: ‘A country that works for everyone, not just for the privileged few’.

With 6 in 10 people supporting workers on boards(2) and 57% of the public agreeing with the statement “Government should encourage companies, through measures like taxes and Government contracts, to cap bosses’ salaries at a maximum of 20 times the company average”(3), it looked at least like the Prime Minister’s solutions were popular. What about the achievability test?

In the newly formed department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, corporate governance was highlighted as a No10 priority and plans were quickly drawn up to show the Prime Minister what could be achieved and quickly.

But the plans presented by BEIS fell short of the ambition of Theresa May’s rhetoric. Rather than Civil Servants trying to limit the political will, it was instead a presentation of the lessons learned from previous attempts of Corporate Government reform. These lessons, simply put, are as followed.

If you want to do anything impactful in this space you need primary legislation.
Primary legislation is a high risk strategy: the right will reject the premise of intervention in the running of a private sector company, the left will want a solution ten times more radical than you are proposing. Both sides will amend to high heaven and if you are able to get it out of the Commons in one piece (which is highly unlikely) you then have the whole battle again in the House of Lords, which is full of even more radical ideologues on both sides.
The resulting Corporate Responsibility Green Paper published in November last year, was seen by many as a U-turn on the Prime Minister’s clear commitment to put workers on company boards.

It is becoming clear that the Government’s response to the consultation on this Green Paper due to be published next week will dilute plan even further. Measures around transparency will survive, but it’s been suggested that anything requiring legislation will be dropped.

The Conservative manifesto made clear what a majority Conservative Government would do on corporate pay and governance – and, whilst is may have been slightly less radical than May’s early rhetoric would suggest, it would be far more than many Conservative MPs would have felt comfortable voting for.

With the General Election resulting in the current parliamentary arithmetic, any radical move on corporate governance is likely dead in the water, but given the importance May has attributed to this issue other avenues to effect change will no doubt be explored.

Meg Powell-Chandler is a Director in Burson-Marsteller’s UK Public Affairs practice. She previously worked as a special adviser in 10 Downing Street and to Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

1. Theresa May Speech in Birmingham, 11 July 2016, link
2. TUC Press Release, 29 November 2016, link
3. ComRes, Sunday Mirror / Independent Political Poll Jan 2017, link

In conversation with… Greg Barth

So, what’s your story? (a little bit about yourself and your background)

Hey, I’m an artist and director from Geneva, Switzerland. I am a designer, turned art director, turned motion designer, turned CG artist, turned stop frame animator, turned director, with a brief exploration in music production and rapping.


How did you develop a love for making art?

My mother is an artist, so I was always surrounded by creativity. I had to go through multiple different mediums to learn how to channel what my style could be, but it has been a rich and fun process.


What techniques do you use?

Techniques change all the time based on my ideas. My restriction is to keep every idea within something that is real, and not use CGI. Using physical techniques is very challenging but also incredibly fun in terms of problem solving, and requires sometimes as much creativity as the actual ideas themselves.


Which work are you most proud of, and why?

I think my latest film Epic Fail is the one I am the most proud of, as It has elements of a plot and the added challenge of writing dialogue, mixed within a strange and surreal piece of video art.


What’s the story behind one or more of the works in this gallery?

The strongest one in my opinion is a political handshake for world peace that goes terribly wrong. This was inspired by Trump’s election, and the symbolic notion that a handshake can bring peace and positive change. Initially I ordered some realistic arm-gloves from china labeled “transvestite cross dressing gloves” and that had the appearance of real arms and hands with creases, skin pigment and nails. They were not cheap, and getting my company bank to accept the transaction by telling them I needed this for my job was quite fun. They ended up not looking very real, so we got an amazingly talented make-up/prosthetic artist to create the arms, complete with hair implants. Freaky.


Remember, our 3×3 instagallery is refreshed every month. Catch our latest one hereOr see more of Greg’s work here.