Feds Spending Millions to Promote Obamacare in States with Federal Exchanges

Feds Spending Millions to Promote Obamacare in States with Federal Exchanges
October 16, 2013

Eric Boehm

Eric Boehm writes for the Pennsylvania Independent, where this column first appeared. (read full bio)

Millions of tax dollars will be used to advertise Obamacare in “red” states with Republican governors who opposed the creation of health insurance exchanges under President Obama’s law.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has reserved more than $12 million of air time in thirteen states beginning September 30 for television advertisements promoting President Obama’s law and the subsidized coverage available via its health insurance exchanges.

The states being targeted are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.

Missouri is the only state on the list that doesn’t have a Republican governor, but it does not have a state exchange and has resisted the push to expand Medicaid.

Exchange Promotion is Key

The health insurance exchanges are a crucial piece of the federal health care overhaul. Designed to operate like travel booking sites, exchanges will allow individuals to shop around for health coverage if they don’t have it provided by an employer and don’t qualify for Medicaid.

Subsidies will be available to help defray the cost of purchasing health insurance, but those who choose not to purchase coverage will be hit with fines in the form of tax penalties.

The federal government is also spending $67 million on “navigators” to help individuals and businesses figure out how to deal with the new exchanges and other aspects of the law.

‘Blatant Misuse of Federal Dollars’

A prominent U.S. senator denounced the plan. Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blasting the advertisement plan as “blatant misuse of federal dollars to promote a fundamentally flawed law.”

“It is unconscionable to spend taxpayer dollars to promote and advertise ObamaCare plans that have yet to be finalized,” Rubio wrote.

Although the exchanges are supposed to come online October 1st, Republicans in Congress have requested a delay in their implementation, and many Republican governors and state legislatures have rejected exchanges entirely, leaving the federal government to manage them instead.

The massive advertising effort may be motivated by polling data which continues to show most Americans have no idea that Obamacare remains the law of the land and even fewer understand much of what is in its 2,000-plus pages.

Eric Boehm

Eric Boehm writes for the Pennsylvania Independent, where this column first appeared. (read full bio)