Lesson Four: If you must use these terms, please add context. Lake advises: “Don’t just say ‘bring costs down,’ and that ‘“It is better to say ‘health care reform will make health care AFFORDABLE—it will cost less and you will get more.’” Hey guys, that’s not likely to happen if the current nostrums for reducing medical costs remain the only ones on the table. As for getting more? The current trend in health insurance—shifting costs from insurers and employers to policyholders—means thousands are getting fewer benefits, not more.

Lake’s memo advises that advocates should not compare the U.S. to other countries, or assert that America does not provide quality health care; neither should they mention that the U.S. is thirty-seventh in the world in health outcomes. Does Lake want to hide the fact that the U.S. performs poorly? My goodness, she almost sounds like a Republican!

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.