The Battle for Obamacare will soon move to another level and it looks like it will be hand-to-hand combat.
In one corner is the anti-Obamacare team. The Koch brothers and Karl Rove have organizations that will spend millions of dollars on advertising telling people Obamacare is a “train wreck” and a “job-killing” bill, and getting health insurance and premium subsidies is a terrible thing.
A new addition to this team is the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom which says it will launch a national “Refuse to Enroll” campaign that urges people not to buy coverage through the exchanges. A McClatchey News article has the following quote from Twila Brase, the group’s president and co-founder.
“We encourage Americans to get involved and make sure that the exchanges fail and, as a result, Obamacare also fails”.
Various anti-Obamacare groups have already spent $400 million on television ads since the law passed, while pro-Obamacare groups have spent just $75 million. The early rounds of the messaging war have clearly been won by the anti-Obamacare side.
In the other corner is the pro-Obamacare tag team that will spend millions on advertising to encourage people to sign up for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and individual health insurance. The pro-Obamacare team doesn’t have lots of money for advertising, but they have numbers when it comes to people-to-people messaging. Groups like Enroll America and Organizing for Action will focus on people talking about health insurance options with friends, neighbors, relatives, church groups, and more.
The pro-Obamacare team has a pretty deep bench when it comes to outreach: libraries, churches, and community health centers. And thousands of Navigators will be hired (and paid) to help people enroll in the appropriate health insurance program for their income level.
The fight may get really down and dirty as October 1st approaches. October 1st is the date health insurance exchanges are set to open in every state. October 1st is also the first day of the new fiscal year for the federal government. Republicans say they will refuse to fund the government unless Obamacare is defunded.
The prospect of this never-ending fight over Obamacare has me pretty depressed because the anti-Obamacare side seems to have the upper hand. But then I received some interesting insurance industry newsletters. These internet publications informed me that the pro-Obamacare team will have a few more players on its side: insurance companies, pharmacies, and hospitals.
I read that Wellpoint, which owns Blue Cross Blue Shield companies in 14 states (but not in Arizona), will spend millions of dollars to market its exchange plans. I suppose other insurance companies will do the same because in most states there will be plenty of competition for hundreds of thousands of new customers.
I’ve also read that CVS and Walgreens will promote enrolling in health insurance. I’ll bet there will be insurance agents, or volunteers, sitting in pharmacies to answer questions about health insurance. I expect to see insurance agents or volunteers in grocery stores too. Insurance agents working the Medicare market will already be there, so it could get a bit crowded.
I don’t know if the battle will get into high gear in September or October, but I’m now looking forward to seeing how the next, most important round plays out. Expensive TV and print advertising versus people in libraries, clinics, grocery stores, pharmacies…… It’s kind of a David vs Goliath fight. But which team is Goliath?