Health group launches major ObamaCare enrollment drive

A group with ties to the White House is beginning a massive grassroots effort this week to promote enrollment under President Obama’s healthcare law.

The nonprofit group Enroll America is organizing 50 events in 18 states to launch a community-level enrollment push. 

The campaign is beginning with community outreach and will eventually build to a paid advertising campaign, Enroll America President Anne Filipic said. The organization is also looking at partnerships with sports leagues and celebrities. 

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Seventy-eight percent of uninsured people don't know about new coverage options they will have once the healthcare law is fully in effect, Filipic said.

She said the enrollment drive will aim to "create almost an echo chamber" of information about enrollment.

"We'll be engaging Americans in their homes and communities," Filipic said on a conference call Tuesday.

New insurance marketplaces created under the healthcare law will open for enrollment Oct. 1 for coverage beginning Jan. 1. 

The push to make sure people enroll is crucial to the success of the healthcare law, and it is ramping up amid Democratic fears that a bumpy rollout could be a drag on the party in the 2014 elections.

Also, congressional Republicans have criticized Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusJerry Moran: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Pompeo ran for Senate in Kansas Mark Halperin inks book deal 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE for raising money on Enroll America's behalf, scrutiny that could scare away potential donors in the healthcare industry.

Filipic declined to put a dollar figure on how much Enroll America expects to spend overall or specifically on paid advertising. 

She said only that "we feel good" about having enough money to reach people effectively.

Filipic said Enroll America's outreach is focused on a holistic approach, getting information to consumers through the channels they already use. Uninsured young men, for example, are most likely to buy insurance because of pressure from their mothers, wives or girlfriends, she said.

"What they really want is to hear from someone they know and trust," she said of the uninsured.

She said this week's push would begin with grassroots events in 18 states, including California, Florida and Texas. 

Many of the young, healthy people the administration most wants to enroll live in a small handful of states, and the outreach effort aims to appeal to them through targeting reminiscent of Obama's 2012 reelection campaign.

"This campaign is about the consumers," Filipic said. "We are focused on reaching them with the information they need."

Organizing for Action, the retooled Obama campaign apparatus, also launched paid advertising this week to promote enrollment in the healthcare law's new insurance exchanges, and Obama made the case personally during a recent stop in California.