Health Care

White House plans ObamaCare push in red states

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The White House is planning a major ObamaCare enrollment push in 11 states this fall, nearly all of which are led by GOP leaders who remain firmly opposed to the law.

The administration is pouring resources into 15 cities in 11 states, including Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, it announced Thursday.

{mosads}All but two of the states — Missouri and Pennsylvania — are led by Republican governors. In both of those states, however, Republicans are in control of both legislative chambers, which can constrain a governor’s office from actively promoting this year’s sign-up period.

This year’s sign-up strategy showcases one of the Obama administration’s biggest struggles with its signature law: sustained resistance from GOP leaders even six years later.   

President Obama lamented in a speech last week that enrollment “has lagged” in areas dominated by Republicans.

“In those states where the governor or legislature is hostile to the [Affordable Care Act], it makes it harder to enroll people because the state is not actively participating in outreach,” Obama said.

The federal government’s outreach will include targeted advertising through email, television, mail and social media. Officials have declined to say how much they plan to spend, though in the past, promotional costs have been in the millions.

It will also include in-person appearances from leading health officials like Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and “local influencers,” which the department said could include athletes or radio show hosts.

Kevin Counihan, CEO of the marketplace, said the administration is drilling down in places “where we’ve seen success in the past and where the potential for enrollment growth remains high.”

Many of the cities — which include Miami, Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago — have also been targets during the previous enrollment periods, particularly targeted toward lower-income populations.

The administration will also partner with city governments and groups like college fraternities as it tries to add 1 million people to ObamaCare’s rolls next year.

Finding the remaining uninsured people has been difficult for the Obama administration and its partner groups in the law’s first three years.

This year could pose a greater challenge after the administration announced a 25 percent average increase in premiums for people buying plans through ObamaCare. The vast majority of people are protected from those increases because of subsidies, but some health experts warn that the bad headlines could turn people away from the law.

The list includes some of the country’s fastest-growing urban areas, such as northern New Jersey, San Antonio and Charlotte, N.C. It also includes struggling cities like Detroit and Chicago.


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