Public says take Obamacare and shove it

Jul 13, 2013 by

Obama fails to understand he is on his way out!

The massive coast-to-coast campaign to get people to sign up for Obamacare is light on mentions of one central element: the widely-disliked individual mandate.

Poll after poll has found that Americans don’t like being told they have to get insurance or face a penalty. So the groups doing outreach don’t plan to draw much attention to it.

“For the most part no, because [the mandate] doesn’t apply to very many people at all,” said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, citing government estimates that only a small proportion of uninsured Americans would actually face a penalty by 2016.

The early stages of the enrollment push has been all honey and no vinegar. Organizing for Action, President Barack Obama’s advocacy group, has released two ads focusing on the law’s benefits. Other advocates are counting on Mom to get their adult kids to sign up. Oregon’s exchange released its first ads this week, featuring – what else? – indie musicians strumming on guitars for the “Live Long Oregonians” campaign.

No mention of the “m” word.

The GOP has no such compunctions. Republicans reclaimed the individual mandate as an attack line this month, vowing to put it on hold for at least a year now that the White House has delayed until 2015 a parallel requirement for businesses. Putting off one set of rules while forging ahead with another just isn’t fair, say Republican lawmakers, who’ll force House votes on each mandate Wednesday.

The Obama administration staked its health care law on a politically sensitive requirement that individuals get covered or pay a fine and it fought all the way to the Supreme Court to keep the mandate in place. The court kept the mandate alive last year by ruling that it was a tax – which didn’t exactly help its popularity problem.

With all that baggage in the background, don’t count on Obamacare supporters to bring a “sign up or else” mandate message as they strive to enroll millions in the health insurance system just a few months from now. The penalty for not having insurance the first year is only $95, although that will rise in the future.

The whole idea of the mandate was to make sure enough people purchase health insurance to make it possible to include the things in Obamacare that people generally like, such as a ban on discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions and outlawing lifetime and annual caps on insurance. Those elements are getting attention in OFA’s ad campaign.

“Before Obamacare, insurance companies could put lifetime caps on your health insurance. Once you hit that cap they don’t pay anymore,” says a mother of a young girl in OFA’s second Obamacare ad released this week. “Obamacare ended lifetime caps,” a narrator states.

Without a requirement for everyone to get covered, the fear is people would wait until they were sick to get coverage. And if only the sick get covered, insurance costs would go through the roof.

Jon Kingsdale, who oversaw the rollout of the 2006 Massachusetts health reform law that featured an individual mandate, said the state was upfront about the requirement, without making it the central message of the outreach.

“We were pretty direct – it’s the law, you need to do it,” said Kingsdale, who now advises states on Obamacare implementation. “The messaging and advertising and so forth is about the value of insurance, as opposed to the requirement for insurance.”

But that was in Massachusetts, where health care reform was bipartisan. One reason the controversy died down nationally for a while after the Supreme Court decision was that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney couldn’t run against the individual mandate when it was the centerpiece of the health plan passed when he was governor.

In the view of many Republicans, the White House’s abrupt decision during the July 4 holiday week to put the employer mandate on ice until 2015 made the requirements for individuals fair game.

via Obamacare’s missing mandate – Jason Millman –

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