“We’ll be engaging Americans in their homes and communities, getting mothers talking to children, neighbors talking to neighbors, friends talking to friends about the changes and what the new law means to them,” said Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America, a group that on Tuesday launched a campaign called “Get Covered America.”
The nonprofit coalition of advocacy organizations, health insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and others sprang up in conjunction with the law. It has ties to the White House, has raised tens of millions of dollars since February and plans a seven-figure television ad buy in the fall.
Planned Parenthood, the National Council of La Raza, the Service Employees International Union and Organizing for Action — the Democratic political-action group that grew out of Obama’s campaign apparatus — are also mobilizing this summer, along with many smaller groups. Their aim will be to spread awareness of the law’s benefits and persuade generally healthy people who lack coverage to sign up.
The groups’ work will be critical to the success of Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment, the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which is aimed at dramatically reducing the ranks of the uninsured over the next decade — by providing subsidies to low-income people to buy private plans and by expanding Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor.
The government has struggled to promote the law, because of widespread confusion about its provisions and because of political opposition. In a call with reporters Tuesday, Filipic — a former Obama campaign organizer and White House staffer — said the group’s research shows that 78 percent of uninsured people do not know about the changes coming in January.
That is when the law’s subsidies and Medicaid expansion — as well as the mandate that virtually every American carry health insurance or face a tax penalty of $95 in the first year — kick in.
The Obama administration is gearing up for its own awareness effort. It has secured an $8 million contract with the public relations firm Weber Shandwick and will launch a Web site this summer for people to register for online accounts and shop for health plans. The administration is also setting up a call center that will be open around the clock and be able to assist callers in 150 languages.