Political analysts see through behind-the-scenes deliberations

As political campaigns ramp up this fall leading to the November elections, traditional strategies may have to add new elements – especially when it comes to the issue of healthcare.

Case in point: the effort early this summer by House Republicans to drum up outrage by releasing batches of emails chronicling backdoor negotiations over the healthcare law between the Obama administration and the pharmaceutical industry.

The response to the release of the emails exchanged between negotiators three years ago was muted in the press and didn’t seem to impact the general public at all.

That’s because it was really no news at all, said Ira Studin, president of Stellar Managed Care Consulting, which advises the pharmaceutical industry. “I think administrations have backdoor discussions with key stakeholders inside industry and other constituencies all the time, so to somehow accuse the Obama administration of something that is having backdoor discussions just doesn’t seem to make practical sense,” he said. “Every administration is having backdoor discussions; if they’re not, they’re not doing their business.”

The release of the healthcare law negotiations emails is business-as-usual politics, said William Rosenberg, a political science professor at Philadelphia’s Drexel University, but in the case of healthcare, voters are not that interested; they’re focused on the economy.

“The biggest issue in the election is going to be tied for most people to the economy,” he said.

Richard Benedetto, a retired White House correspondent now teaching journalism at the American University in Washington, D.C., agrees.

“In every election, there’s always the effort on the part of the Congress – especially the party that has control of the House or Senate – will try to hold hearings and do things that will inject some controversy into the campaign,” Benedetto said. But in today’s climate, getting people riled about behind-the-scenes healthcare law negotiations that took place three years ago has “pretty limited” impact.

Now, with the Supreme Court’s decision on the law, political ploys connected to the healthcare issue, like the release of the negotiation emails, will likely fizzle out, he noted, and even the bump in interest in healthcare generated by the Supreme Court decision will be temporary.

“We’ll be seeing a lot about healthcare, but right after (the Supreme Court decision) we’re into July and we’re going to be starting to look at the conventions, the vice presidential pick and things like that,” he said, and then each party will be shifting political strategy to focus on the issues voters are thinking about – the economy and jobs.

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