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DRAWN INTO HEALTH DEBATE PIZZA HUT, MCDONALD'S RAPPED FOR EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

By Published on .

WASHINGTON-Pizza Hut, McDonald's Corp. and a TV spot that never aired landed smack in the middle of the national healthcare debate last week.

U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.) on Friday said he would summon Pizza Hut President Allan Huston here to explain why the PepsiCo subsidiary pays workers' health insurance abroad but not in the U.S. He also claimed Pizza Hut pressured network affiliates here not to air a TV spot attacking Pizza Hut for the same thing.

The TV spot and a page ad scheduled to appear in the July 17 New York Times and Washington Post were from the pro-Clinton Healthcare Reform Project. The coalition accused Pizza Hut and McDonald's of providing better healthcare to employees abroad than to U.S. workers.

Pizza Hut, McDonald's and much of the restaurant industry oppose healthcare reform proposals that include mandatory employer payments.

The 30-second spot claimed that "for many workers in America, Pizza Hut pays no health insurance."

Pizza Hut, in a written defense, threatened legal action against the group's agency, Chlopak, Leonard & Schechter.

Also last week, the Group Health Association of America broke its first TV healthcare spot, featuring a Vermont doctor. The $1 million campaign, encompassing CNN and network news, was produced by Greer, Margolis, Mitchell & Burns, which handled President Clinton's presidential campaign advertising.

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