That "Harry and Louise" seemed so real to television viewers nearly a decade ago when they shared their concerns about the Clinton healthcare reform plan is coming back to haunt the health insurance industry. As it turns out, Harry Johnson and Louise Claire Clark are the real names of the actors used in the series, and they've decided to make another commercial.
But to the dismay of the Health Insurance Association of America, the new "Harry and Louise" campaign plugs therapeutic cloning on behalf of CuresNow, a group headed by a motion picture studio executive and a former executive who both have children with juvenile diabetes.
The HIAA says it has no involvement in the campaign and doesn't support or condone it.
"We are stunned to learn that characters so closely associated with HIAA are now being used in other ways without our foreknowledge and without our permission," the association stated in a press release.
The agency producing the campaign, Washington-based Goddard Claussen Porter Novelli, says the two actors agreed to appear in the ads because of their strong personal interest in guarding therapeutic cloning from proposed federal legislation that would ban such research.
It's the end of April, the Olympics are history and the snow is melting. So what's a Winter Olympian to do?
Go to Washington, of course.
On their way to a White House tribute to Olympic and Paralympic medalists last week, two athletes stopped by to help Cabinet secretaries promote new healthcare programs.
Snowboarder Chris Klug appeared with HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson to support organ donations. Klug won the bronze medal in the men's parallel giant slalom event at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics just 18 months after receiving a liver transplant. "Every day, 114 individuals are added to the national waiting list for organs. I'm one of the lucky ones," Klug said.
A day later, third-generation Olympian Jim Shea Jr. appeared with Department of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to unveil an online job site for long-term-care facilities and retirement homes. Soon Americans will hear Shea's sentiments on national public service announcements.
The effusive Shea, who won the gold for the skeleton event, which was resurrected for the games, said he wants to give back to an older generation. "My country's free, they've fought in wars, they've done all these different things. I'm really appreciative of all the generation before me has done," he said.
Little-known, but inspirational
OK, so Ken Mitchell, Chris Scalise or John Sauderburk didn't win gold medals, a World Series or an NBA ring. But their helmeted heads are now plastered throughout Pittsburgh. Confronting the post-Sept. 11 reality of hero worship, the Pittsburgh Helmet Coalition has bagged putting sports idols on an injury prevention campaign poster in favor of real people who wear helmets as part of their everyday jobs: firefighters, police officers and paramedics.
The poster also features three helmeted children with a bicycle, a scooter and a skateboard. The coalition was formed in 1998 by Jeffrey Coben, M.D., an emergency medicine specialist at Allegheny General Hospital. Coben was motivated by the grim fact that more than 300,000 American children visit ERs each year with trauma injuries and approximately 300 of them die from head injuries. Since late February when the posters and a companion helmet buyers' guide became available, more than 6,000 posters have been distributed free of charge to children, parents and schools, say officials at Allegheny General's parent, West Penn Allegheny Health System.
"I figured that would be good preparation for the upcoming Senate committee hearings."
-VHA President and CEO C. Thomas Smith, at the opening ceremonies of the VHA leadership conference in Chicago last week, referring to Mark McKenna, president of Novation, the alliance's purchasing arm. McKenna had just been subjected to a juggling act in which he had to hold up spinning plates and a ball while jugglers tossed knives back and forth in front of his face. McKenna is set to testify April 30 before a U.S. Senate panel investigating the business practices of the group purchasing industry.