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December 02, 2013

Matt Labash, Embedded With the "Non-Partisan" Obamacare Cheerleaders of Enroll America

This is just plain funny, but it's also a good news piece.

Hard Sell

Going door-to-door for Obamacare

by Matt Labash

Hollywood, Fla.

Standing here on the streets of Hollywood with two comely Obamacare cheerleaders by my side, I’m feeling fired up and ready to go. I’m feeling like the change I’ve been waiting for. I’m feeling like whatever Obama cliché you can think of. And all I want to say, like the late Todd Beamer before me, is, “Let’s roll.” Or more like, “Let’s enroll.” Because much as Beamer, God rest his soul, took on the terrorists who tried to take down America, we are now in a similar cataclysmic fight: the fight to guarantee that every American has the right to buy overpriced health insurance on a glitchy website, under threat of punitive tax penalties.

I’ve come to Florida to go door-to-door with the foot soldiers of Get Covered America, the boots-on-the-ground division of Enroll America, which bills itself as a “nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to maximize the number of uninsured Americans who enroll in health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act.” These Obamacare evangelists are very serious about the “nonpartisan” nature of their business. Nearly every Enroll America staffer I speak to emphasizes it, often repeatedly. And while it might strain credulity that an organization is nonpartisan which seeks to make sure people are Obamacared for by setting $100 million fundraising goals for itself, and conducting $5 million ad campaigns, and targeting 10 different states, 9 of which are coincidentally run by Republican governors, I choose to take them at their word.

After all, Enroll America boasts all manner of nonpartisan credentials. Most of its staffers seem to have worked in the nonpartisan Obama presidential campaigns of 2008 or 2012, often both. Its president, Anne Filipic, served as deputy executive director of the nonpartisan Democratic National Committee, and came here straight from the nonpartisan White House Office of Public Engagement. The nonpartisan Obamacare czar, Kathleen Sebelius (whom Filipic also worked for), has admitted putting the arm on companies to make donations to Enroll America, sparking several nonpartisan congressional investigations.

And after decidedly partisan conservative gadfly James O’Keefe and his undercover Project Veritas crew caught Texas Enroll America communications director Chris Tarango on tape conspiring to help obtain a private list of potential Obamacare enrollee data for political purposes, a national Enroll America spokesman told me again: “Enroll America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization,” it doesn’t technically enroll people “so we don’t have any sensitive personal data,” and though the video “does not show any violation of our nonprofit status,” even the suggestion of any violation is “inappropriate” and the “employee seen in the video has resigned from his role with Enroll America.”

With my nonpartisan concerns allayed, we’re ready to roll! At the Hollywood public library, I meet up with Get Covered America’s Katie Vicsik and Rhianna Hurt, 2 of 28 Florida staffers (they also have nearly 1,800 volunteers on the ground in the state). They are twentysomething, earnest, clipboard-carrying, and as adorable as speckled pups. They’re the Platonic ideal of Obama campaign staffers (which they both were) from back in the salad days, when the winds of hope’n’change blew across the prairie, and there was still dew on the world.

....

Katie and Rhianna are light touches. They don’t hard-sell. They don’t discuss premiums (Enroll America’s internal polling showed that discussing prices, even when emphasizing subsidies, was death to prospective enrollees). They don’t use flashpoint words like “Obamacare” if it can be helped—only “the Affordable Care Act.” All they want to do, Katie tells me, is to provide information, to apprise people of their options. They are not interested in political debates. “We always stress that we’re nonpartisan,” says Katie.

So I’ve heard.

That's the funnier part, but the rest of it is important reporting: Even going door-to-door with microtargeted call sheets, armed with names of people Obama has decided are likely supporters of Obama, and/or need health insurance themselves, Katie and Rhianna encounter a lot of skepticism and outright anger about Obamacare.

And speaking of that, I have to link this great video I saw in Hot Air's Quotes of the Day last night. The person who posted the video explains:

I took this video because "I" knew what my liberal relative was going to try to do and I knew how my unsuspecting consevative family was going to react. I just had to capture the moment on video!

Update: Commenters point out that this video seems like a set-up by an Obamacare opponent, deliberately trying to elicit a laugh from the family. That's fair enough, and would still make the video a useful commentary about public perceptions about Obamacare, if not for the fact that the claim about how the video came to be -- quoted above -- is therefore false.


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posted by Ace at 04:07 PM

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