Building opposition for consumer issue

Building opposition for consumer issue

Communications can raise awareness of issues and inform public opinion, which often helps galvanize support or opposition. B2 has recently been involved in raising awareness in Florida for a troubling consumer issue – an industry request to give third-party copy vendors the right to charge consumers $1 a page for copies of their medical records.

Alongside AARP, the Florida Consumer Action Network, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, and other consumer advocacy groups, B2 has helped to build opposition to the request, which would impose a significant financial burden on elderly, disabled and fixed- and low-income consumers, through media relations.

One key in our communications has been making the issue easy to understand. While the proposed change to the Administrative Code is complicated, the outcome would be simple – the change would lead to a tripling in consumer costs.

To illustrate the point, we used a real example of how the change would impact the consumer. Under the current rule, 525 pages of medical records cost a Florida patient $150 ($1 per page for the first 25 pages, then 25 cents per page thereafter), but would increase to $525 under the proposed new rule.

The result: coverage in such media outlets as the Tampa Bay Times (article and editorial), Bay News 9, Creative Loafing, Tampa Bay Business Journal, and the Palm Beach Post. A contingent of consumer advocates voiced their opposition to the proposed cost increase at a Florida Board of Medicine public hearing in early August.

The issue hasn’t yet been resolved, as the Board of Medicine plans to take up the matter again in October.