Health group’s ObamaCare enrollment drive targets states with GOP governors

A leading campaign to promote ObamaCare enrollment is targeting 10 states, mostly with Republican governors hostile to the law.

The window to begin enrolling in the law’s new coverage options opens in just 50 days. Enroll America, a prominent nonprofit with close ties to the White House, said it’s focusing on 10 states as it ramps up a massive education campaign that will ultimately cost tens of millions of dollars.

Enroll America President Anne Filipic emphasized that the group’s mission is not to promote ObamaCare politically but to provide nuts-and-bolts information about how the law works and to encourage people to sign up for new coverage options.

“This is not a conversation about politics,” Filipic said. “This is a conversation about what does this mean to you, to your family, to your pocketbook. And there’s such power in that.”

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Of the 10 states Enroll America is targeting — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas — nine have Republican governors.

None established their own insurance exchanges, although two states are sharing the workload with the federal government and several have signed on to the law’s Medicaid expansion.

Filipic said the states were selected because they have a large number of uninsured people and also because Enroll America’s resources can make a difference there. 

A state like California wouldn’t make the cut because the state is already aggressively promoting enrollment, while Texas and Florida remain hostile to implementing the healthcare law.

Enroll America was created specifically to encourage enrollment in the law’s new coverage options, not to promote the law politically.

“People aren’t interested in the politics,” Filipic said. “They want to know what it means to them and their families, and what the new options are.”

Filipic is a veteran of both the Obama campaign and administration, and was brought over to Enroll America as the group emerged as the leading vehicle to promote enrollment in newly available healthcare plans. Current and former administration officials have also raised money for the group.

Filipic said Enroll America plans to spend tens of millions of dollars through 2014 as it encourages uninsured people to sign up for coverage.

The group has doubled its own staff since kicking off its enrollment campaign and has signed up roughly 3,000 volunteers in the 10 states on which it is focusing, officials said during a conference call with reporters Monday.

“People are really hungry for the facts,” Filipic said.

So far, Enroll America has focused primarily on building a network of community organizations and local volunteers, and will ramp up its contact with the uninsured as the open enrollment period for the exchanges grows closer.

Although the group is adopting the same metrics-driven approach as Obama’s 2012 campaign, officials noted that health insurance is a complicated and personal issue that will likely require multiple contacts with each potential enrollee.

“Reaching someone before open enrollment and never talking to them again is not the best path,” national field director John Gilbert said.

The group is planning a major push around back-to-school events, hoping to reach parents and also focusing on community colleges, where volunteers hope to find uninsured young people.

It is also planning a big drive in September to enlist volunteers and community groups both to knock on doors and to meet people “where they are” — at farmers’ markets, barbershops and community centers, officials said.

"Anywhere where there's going to be people, we want to be there as well," Gilbert said.