CHICAGO (AP) — A nonprofit group helping to spread the word about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) launched a campaign Tuesday that will target states with high numbers of uninsured Americans.
The “Get Covered America” campaign will include door-to-door visits by volunteers, brochures handed out at farmers markets and churches and, possibly, partnerships with sports leagues and celebrities, said Anne Filipic, a former White House official who recently became president of Enroll America, the group sponsoring the campaign.
The group’s research shows 78 percent of uninsured adults don’t know about opportunities that will be available to them in 2014 under the PPACA, Filipic said Tuesday during a phone call with reporters. The campaign is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars, including a seven-figure media ad buy.
“If they don’t know about it, then they won’t enroll,” Filipic said. “We’ve done our research. We know people want to know what the law means for them in a ‘just the facts’ sort of way.”
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Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has drawn criticism from Republicans for making fundraising calls for Enroll America. Earlier this month, Sebelius told members of Congress she made five phone calls for Enroll America, two of which involved actual fundraising solicitations, to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block, entities not regulated by HHS.
She also called three health care companies to “suggest that the entities take a look at the organization (Enroll America)” but did not make a fundraising solicitation to those three. They were Johnson & Johnson, Ascension Health and Kaiser Permanente.
Sebelius said the HHS secretary has the legal authority to raise money for initiatives that support government health programs.She has said that other HHS secretaries have helped organize similar public-private partnership outreach efforts to support the launch of programs such as the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.
The federal government itself will spend millions on marketing and advertising about the health law, but the spending will vary greatly across the nation because some Republican-led states haven’t sought federal dollars for ad campaigns.
Enroll America’s campaign will start with 50 events in 18 states, Filipic said. The group has staff on the ground in eight states, including Texas and Florida and others where government officials have resisted key parts of PPACA, such as the expansion of Medicaid.
“We know that most of the uninsured don’t know about the new coverage options coming this fall, let alone whether or not their state is expanding Medicaid,” Filipic said. “Many of the uninsured are eligible for Medicaid today but have not enrolled, and those who are not eligible for Medicaid may qualify for coverage through the marketplace.”