How to Beat “Pay or Play” (a.k.a. Fair Share) Success Story

By January 25, 2006Health Care

State legislatures are the short racetracks of politics: in most states, issues are shaped, considered and disposed of in rapid-fire fashion to fit brief calendars. Therefore, groups that organize well and quickly tend to prevail in state battles. Why do you think the AFL et al have taken their national health care battle to the states? It’s at least a twofer for them.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) is a great best practice story of how to out-organize the opposition and win. I include their description verbatim and add that they also employed a very successful program of getting key business leaders to contact legislative leaders directly. This was different from the canned grass-top campaigns many of us have seen; CBIA’s close relationship with their member companies and key executives made all the difference.
Connecticut’s 2005 “pay or play” legislation was defeated largely because Connecticut businesses and their employees strongly voiced their opposition to state lawmakers. CBIA was successful in:

  • Forming the Coalition for a Competitive Connecticut, led by CBIA and composed of other trade associations and business groups in the state, in order to present a united front and to speak with one voice in the campaign against the pay or play proposal as well as others.
  • Prominently and continuously displaying the pay or play issue on our Web site and in our weekly, monthly and quarterly publications. We urged our members to contact legislators and provided a direct link from our many electronic communications (Web site, e-news, take-action e-mails, etc.) to make legislator contact easy.
  • Encouraging members to “tell a friend” – especially their employees (employees responded and sent thousands of e-mails).
  • Putting together a group of CBIA members to buy newspaper space (a full page ad in the state’s largest newspaper) opposing the issue.
  • Holding weekly meetings with government affairs professionals, or other interested members (HR, etc.), on updates, status reports, etc.
  • Coordinating legislative district breakfast meetings with CBIA-member companies and local lawmakers.