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Case Study: Patient Choice

The Problem

South Dakota was a state that allowed narrow networks within the health insurance industry. This meant, the insurance company could and would decide which physicians they would cover and which would require higher out-of-network costs. It wasn't right.

Concerned physicians from around the state brought the issue of patient choice forward during the 2013 legislative session. While the bill passed the House Health and Human Services committee, the House floor and the Senate Commerce committee, it was blocked in the Senate by special interests, including the three major health systems in the state. But, because quality health care is an important issue for the residents of South Dakota, this group of physicians felt it was important for patients to have the opportunity to vote on the issue.

Media One was hired to by Patient Choice for South Dakota Ballot Committee to organize and run the campaign from start to finish – signature collection through victory.

The Solution
Media One did its homework, starting with research and message testing. Once it was determined that voters of South Dakota would support the "freedom to choose your own doctor," the work began. More than 30,000 signatures were collected to put patient choice on the ballot. That's almost twice the necessary number of valid signatures – the issue became known as Initiated Measure 17 (IM 17).

Media One worked with a coalition of independent physicians to grow support and build a coalition of health care providers. Yes on 17 messaging came out early, even before the primary elections. The goals were to introduce an issue that not many people were familiar with and to come out with a message that would be difficult for the opposition to attack.

Early on, it was clear this would be a David vs. Goliath type battle – small independent hospitals versus the major health systems which themselves owned health insurance companies. The goal was to stay on message and when necessary, point out to the public who exactly was against this and why.

When the opposition did begin to get their message out, they attempted to frame IM 17 as a complicated health care issue that would raise insurance costs – scaring the public with false flames. Yes on 17 stayed the course and successfully poked holes in their arguments.

Tactics involved a speaker's bureau, yard signs, TV, online advertising, Facebook and a website, as well as outdoor and one mailer leading up to election day. In addition, there was a strong grass-roots effort put forward by supportive physicians, inside exam rooms.

The Results
On November 4, 2014, South Dakota's Initiated Measure 17 passed 62% to 38%, securing for patients in the state, the freedom to choose their own doctor.

Case Study: The Gag Law

The Problem
In 2008, Media One® was charged with defeating a dangerous "Open & Clean Government" law in South Dakota. This wolf in sheep's clothing would have prevented government employees from speaking to elected officials.

Initiated Measure 10 was a cynical piece of legislation put forward by a Grover Norquist-inspired (and funded) out-of-state interest group to gut government. However, because it was positioned as "open and clean," it did strike a positive note with many voters. In fact, early polling showed 61% favorability for Initiated Measure 10.

The Solution
Media One worked with a broad coalition of stakeholders on both sides of the political aisle to re-brand the measure. The firm assisted in the formulation of a baseline study that isolated key arguments for and against the measure. The results illustrated a critical weakness in the measure – a deep-rooted and powerful response to freedom of speech issue. As a result, our team re-branded Initiated Measure 10: "The Gag Law."

Dozens of groups opposed the measure because it cut off thousands of South Dakotans from voicing their opinions and participating in the political process.

Tactics involved a speaker's bureau and scheduled presentations statewide, mail-drops, ground-distributed brochures and online marketing clicking through to a microsite. TV, served as primary medium, with supportive outdoor and radio.

The Results
Thanks to the power of re-branding as the gag law, South Dakota's voters were able to see the measure for what it was. Early polling showed only 33% of South Dakotans voting NO on 10. However, come election day, the law was defeated 65/35 – a major success for Media One's clients and the residents of South Dakota.

NOTE: This campaign was awarded two highly-coveted Reed Awards® by Campaigns and Elections (formerly Politics®) Magazine. It was also the winner of multiple ADDY® Awards.