1-800-USE-DOCS: The Obama administration is asking celebrities to tweet on behalf of Obamacare’s debut. Rosario Dawson has answered the call. Katy Perry has retweeted, although she hasn’t worn that dress. Other stars, like Michael Cera and Jennifer Hudson, signed on to the PR push last summer. Bill Clinton was deployed in a video talk in September. Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been hitting the road to sell the plan.
I would never doubt the persuasive power of Michael Cera, or even Kathleen Sebelius, but let me suggest (as someone who wants Obamacare to succeed) that the administration is using the wrong spokespeople. Everyone knows Hollywood is insensibly in love with Obama and will promote whatever he tells them to. And nobody trusts politicians anymore about anything. Their exhortations are discounted accordingly. Instead, the administration should use … doctors. Actual doctors. Specifically, actual doctors from Massachusetts, where (thanks to Mitt Romney) something very close to Obamacare’s exchanges have been in place for over half a decade.
This isn’t like urging folks to vote. Obamacare’s opponents–who have, after all, been winning the debate–have given people the impression that Obamacare will not just be costly–it will be a living nightmare, bureaucratically and medically. A non-trivial portion of the population even thinks it will be such a nightmare that it’s worth shutting down the government or defaulting on our debt over.
I’d been breathing some of this air when I ran into a friend at my college reunion, who happens to be a Massaschusetts doctor. It’s been fine, he assured me. Of course there are some problems but more people are getting care, and that’s a good thing. I calmed right down. Must have been the bedside manner.
Why not replicate my experience in TV commercials. Get some Welbyesque Bay State sawbones** in a white coat–not to hype the plan, but rather to lower the temperature. He could say something like:
‘Exchanges aren’t anything to fear. I know because we have them here in Massachusetts and they’ve worked OK. You go online. You sign up for a plan. You go see a doctor. It’s pretty simple. Yes, they aren’t perfect, but we’re improving them and they’re better than the system that came before. I’m treating patients. They’re getting healthier. Are people fleeing Massachusetts because of our health system? No. We like our exchanges. Now, that system is going national. If you don’t like it, you can always change it. But let’s give it a try. It’s not like the medical system is going to plunge into chaos. We doctors in Massachusetts would never have tolerated that.’
If that doesn’t work, there is always Katy Perry’s dress.
**– Preferably a Republican.