Sebelius: Conservative group efforts to fight ObamaCare enrollment 'dismal'

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressed frustration Monday that some conservative groups are encouraging young people not to take advantage of ObamaCare's new benefits. 

Sebelius called the efforts "dismal" on a conference call with reporters and said she expects pro-enrollment campaigns to eventually win out.

Young people will be essential to the operation of the Affordable Care Act's new insurance exchanges because their enrollment will balance out the price of covering older, sicker patients. 

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Sebelius said younger patients are "front and center" for insurance companies seeking new customers under healthcare reform.

"We're going to do our best outreach to this group," Sebelius said. "We know a lot of young adults don’t have health insurance as their top priority, and reaching that group is a challenge."

The Tea Party-affiliated group FreedomWorks launched a campaign in mid-July urging young people to "burn your ObamaCare draft card" — an analogy to burning draft cards during the Vietnam War.

FreedomWorks Vice President of Public Policy Dean Clancy said "it's not against the law to ignore" the mandate to buy health coverage "or to buy coverage that doesn't fully conform to the law's complicated and intrusive rules."

The group is rallying young people against obtaining coverage on the exchanges as a general protest against ObamaCare.

Similar efforts are expected to gear up in the month of August. Open enrollment on the exchanges begins Oct. 1.

Sebelius acknowledged that the deadline is looming but said the exchanges would be ready on time.

She lamented that the department does not have an ideal budget for promoting the law, as Congress has refused to appropriate the desired funds.

"We won’t have the kind of resources that Apple had when it rolled out the iPhone and iPad,” Sebelius said. “We’d love to have the money a movie studio has when its about to launch a new hit."