The New York Times is reporting that California is resorting to unconventional methods of convincing its residents of the “benefits” of what is known as “ObamaCare.” While advertisements are usually clearly stated as such, apparently Americans could soon see pro-health care reform messages in some of the nation’s most popular television shows.
The New York Times explains:
Realizing that much of the battle will be in the public relations realm, the[California Health Benefit Exchange] has poured significant resources into a detailed marketing plan — developed not by state health bureaucrats but by the global marketing powerhouse Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, which has an initial $900,000 contract with the exchange. The Ogilvy plan includes ideas for reaching an uninsured population that speaks dozens of languages and is scattered through 11 media markets: advertising on coffee cup sleeves at community colleges to reach adult students, for example, and at professional soccer matches to reach young Hispanic men.
And Hollywood, an industry whose major players have been supportive of President Obama and his agenda, will be tapped. Plans are being discussed to pitch a reality television show about “the trials and tribulations of families living without medical coverage,” according to the Ogilvy plan. The exchange will also seek to have prime-time television shows, like “Modern Family,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and Univision telenovelas, weave the health care law into their plots.
“I’d like to see 10 of the major TV shows, or telenovelas, have people talking about ‘that health insurance thing,’ ” said Peter V. Lee, the exchange’s executive director. “There are good story lines here.” [Emphasis added]
The article does not say whether Lee, who refers to the overhaul as “that health insurance thing,” has read the roughly 2,500 page bill that Americans will soon have to conform to.
The New York Times continues:
The exchange itself has so far been financed by three grants, worth $237 million, from the federal government. Most of the money is committed to consultants, including Accenture, which has a $327 million contract to build and support the initial operation of the enrollment portal.
[…]Despite the full-throttle approach here, another uncertainty is the outcome of the presidential race. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, has vowed to repeal the health care law and restructure Medicaid, not only scrapping the planned expansion but making the program much leaner. Even without a repeal, Republicans could undo the federal subsidies and other financing for the law if they won the presidency and even a narrow majority in the Senate.
“If the federal funding stopped,” Mr. Lee said, “we would be at a ‘press reset’ button.” [Emphasis added]
Apparently only 17% of California voters in an August 20 Field Poll said they were familiar with the specifics of the insurance exchange that will soon be a major component of the health care system, though 54% said they supported the new legislation.
“The fact that very few people have heard about us isn’t an issue,” Mr. Lee said confidently. “Come back in a year.”