Obama administration offers strategies to promote Obamacare in schools

The Obama administration has posted materials online aimed at promoting the new health-care law in schools.

The materials, offered at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Health Insurance Marketplace website include a resource card directing students to online materials about the Health Insurance Marketplace, as well as “What it means” fact sheets about the Affordable Care Act for school communities, students and parents and teachers, and a document on ways to promote the new health-care options in schools.

Each of the fact sheets, which appear under the “Affordable Care Act series from the Department of Education” category, offer basic information about the new health-care law.

“The US Department of Education is working to make all schools healthier and safe,” the fact sheets explain. “To help states, districts, and schools ensure healthy schools and students, the Department encourages school communities to make use of exciting new provisions of the Affordable Care Act. … To get all of America’s schools covered, the Health Insurance Marketplace begins with YOU.”

The fact sheets in the series were also recently included in the latest Education Department’s bi-weekly newsletter “ED Review.”

In addition to the student, school community, and parent and teacher fact sheets, the Marketplace website also offers a how to guide on promoting the Affordable Care Act in schools, titled “Ten Ways Schools Can Promote New Health Insurance Opportunities” and explaining that “schools can play a vital role in making sure people know how to get coverage.”

The ways the government says schools can “contribute to the outreach effort” include spreading the message about the marketplace through special events, school materials and coaches.

The document also advises schools to help students and their families apply for coverage and make the school’s computer lab available to parents “to sign up for coverage, as well as sharing best practices with statewide training sessions.”

In a June interview with POLITICO, Education Secretary Arne Duncan explained that when it comes to the Affordable Care Act the department would be “[d]oing everything we can to work with schools. I’ve been out doing graduation speeches and talking about young people staying on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26, there are always lots of applause lines around that. So whatever schools can do to be good partners.”

“We actually have a team here that’s sort of helping, obviously more on the margins, but helping on ACA implementation,” he added. “We want to be a good partner and work with schools and universities.”

In response to Duncan’s comments, a group of GOP lawmakers led by South Dakota Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions¬†(HELP) Committee wrote a letter to Duncan in mid-July demanding to know what the Education Department’s involvement in the promotion and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Education missed the July 30 deadline to respond and has yet to offer the senators an answer to their inquiry.