Obama administration health policy veterans launched a political advocacy campaign Wednesday dedicated to increasing Obamacare enrollment in the wake of steep cuts to to the program’s federal marketing budget.
The campaign, “Get America Covered,” is led by Lori Lodes and Joshua Peck, both of whom oversaw enrollment for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) during the Obama administration. The Obamacare advocates embarked on the campaign in an effort to revitalize enrollment marketing efforts in the wake of steep cuts to the advertising budget under the current HHS.
“If the administration was committed to making sure people had the information they needed to sign up for health care, we wouldn’t need to start Get America Covered,” Lodes said in a statement. “But people’s lives are at stake so everyone has to step up and fill whatever gaps they can so people get the health care they need.”
The organization, which is currently working with a six-figure budget, plans to target the uninsured through digital ads and encourage enrollment by partnering with employers, community organizations, and other groups that can facilitate outreach.
The group is chaired by a number of high profile Democratic activists and health policy veterans, including CNN’s Van Jones, actress Alyssa Milano, actor Bradley Whitford, former health insurance CEO Mario Molina and former Obama health care official Andy Slavitt.
Obamacare proponents have argued that marketplace instability and falling enrollment numbers are the direct result of intentional sabotage on the part of the Trump administration. The administration announced a 90 percent cut to the Obamacare advertising budget in late August and a 39 percent cut to the navigator program, which is intended to help potential enrollees navigate the process.
Analysts studying enrollment argue that cuts to the Obamacare advertising budget amounts to “sabotage” because marketing is instrumental in prompting enrollment among young, healthy individuals, who are needed to offset the costs of older sick people.
Peck, who served as chief marketing officer for Obamacare’s enrollment website Healthcare.gov, argued that advertising is essential to the program’s success. He recently cited the volume of enrollees who were unaware of the program before encountering publicly funded advertising.
“Why does Coca-Cola still advertise?” Peck told Bloomberg. “There was a tremendous amount of documented evidence of the efficiency of these dollars.”
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