The billion-dollar ObamaCare advertising campaign

posted at 1:21 pm on July 10, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

It isn’t the only legislation and/or policy that’s had its own accompanying media onslaught, but in terms of the combined campaigns both for and against the health care overhaul, ObamaCare-related advertising is fast becoming one of the most expensive — and doing so in the shortest-ever amount of time, according to a media firm’s analysis:

Counting money spent on ads since debate on the measure heated up in 2009 until the most recent spending records available, the Campaign Media Analysis Group, part of Kantar Media, found more than $500 million has already been spent on trying to sway public opinion and political races tied to the issue.

“The law both parties now call ‘Obamacare’ seems due to join Social Security and Medicare in one respect: as a public policy advertising phenom, a program that is reviled and perhaps eventually revered in political advertising for billions of dollars in ad spend to come,” said Elizabeth Wilner, vice president for strategic initiatives at CMAG in a release accompanying the analysis. “Yet while Social Security and Medicare have been litigated on the airwaves for more than 40 years, CMAG expects the ACA to break the $1 billion mark by its fifth birthday.”

Opponents of the legislation have outspent supporters by a 5-to-1 margin, according to CMAG’s estimates, but that ratio will likely shift as implementation deadlines approach in the coming years, coinciding with the midterm elections. …

“We expect Democrats on the ballot in 2014 to embrace the individual mandate in TV advertising after basically forfeiting the airwaves to Republicans and other critics for the past three years,” Wilner said. “Once the ACA begins to impact voters, we think Democrats will have no choice but to embrace the upsides in advertising.”

But conservatives, Wilner noted, have plenty of ammo to use in likely political advertising still to come. Not only are new taxes are going begin kicking in and the potential for higher premiums continue to climb still higher (especially if they can’t wrangle the necessary influx of healthy individuals to balance out the inherently riskier insurance pools), the law’s popularity isn’t going to get a boost from the rampant signs of unraveling at every available corner as the administration falls over itself to prepare the exchanges ready by the October deadline. The recent delay of the employer mandate, as well as the holiday news-dump revelation that the administration doesn’t intend to verify individual eligibility for insurance subsidies — at least until such a time as they can get around to it — and the egregious opportunities for fraud, probably aren’t going to help matters for them, either:

HHS is disowning eligibility quality control because pre-clearance is “not feasible” as a result of “operational barriers” and “a large amount of systems development on both the state and federal side, which cannot occur in time for October 1, 2013.”

You’ve got to love that passive voice. It’s true that coordinating and managing vast amounts of information from hundreds of millions of Americans and corporations, and monitoring compliance with more than 10,000 pages of fine-print Federal Register regulations so far, is hard to do. Yet that is the system Democrats installed when they passed the law, which is not supposed to be optional due to administrative incompetence.

HHS promises to develop “a more robust verification process,” some day, but the result starting in October may be millions of people getting subsidies who don’t legally qualify. This would mean huge increases in ObamaCare spending. Some of these folks could be fraudsters, much as 21% to 25% of Earned Income Tax Credits flow to people who aren’t eligible, according to the Treasury inspector general. The same error rate for ObamaCare would amount to as much as $250 billion in improper payments in its first decade.

Democrats’ advertising, on the other hand, won’t have too much of a choice other than to embrace the law and keep trumpeting the ostensible benefits as loudly as is humanly possible, as a general-avoidance tactic is getting harder and harder — and even if the delay was partially meant to give them a little breathing room, it could very well have a negative effect anyway. The one-year grace period probably won’t be enough to rescue Democratic candidates in tight races in the midst of a still “recovering” economy, says Alexis Simendinger at RCP:

“What is a Democratic candidate supposed to say in light of this: ‘Yes, I supported Obamacare but thankfully we delayed it to protect you from how bad it is’?” asked Brad Dayspring, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Administration officials, who this summer embarked on a campaign to encourage young, uninsured Americans to sign up for health coverage after Oct. 1 through new state-based insurance exchanges, said the individual enrollment required through January will proceed. But Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, in a statement posted on the White House website Tuesday, said the administration wanted to show flexibility as a law initially passed in 2010 will continue to take effect in 2015.

“As we implement this law, we have and will continue to make changes as needed,” Jarrett said.

“As needed” may have more to do with politics than the substantive changes Obama’s decision may have on the law, its defenders conceded.

But, whatever. The legislation was signed, sealed, and delivered without the vote of a single Republican, but all of these failures are still pretty much Republicans’ fault, or something. Natch.


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IIRC, The Coca-Cola Company spent much more than $1 billion to sell ‘New Coke’ and it still failed…miserably.

Resist We Much on July 10, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Mission: Permanent Progressive control of every aspect of our lives.

With the gop unwilling to DEFUND OBAMACARE what can we do to thwart the tyrant state that’s being built?

PappyD61 on July 10, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Why can’t we call “obmacare” obamcare taxor you could get pc and call it the Afforable Care TAX

rodguy911 on July 10, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Zero it out.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on July 10, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Come book tickets on the beautiful Titanic!

Ward Cleaver on July 10, 2013 at 1:31 PM

$1 billion begging campaign.

hillsoftx on July 10, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Not only will we spend thousands of dollars on the John Roberts tax, but our tax dollars will be spent telling us how much we should love Big Brother’s healthcare swindle that we really hate.

Just smear more lipstick on that pig with our money, and maybe we won’t believe our lying noses.

Steve Z on July 10, 2013 at 1:34 PM

“As we implement this law, we have and will continue to make changes as needed,” Jarrett said.

We, we, we…NO NO NO…Congress will decide that you clueless winch.

hillsoftx on July 10, 2013 at 1:34 PM

That photo on the main page with this post: it’s like they’re SO HAPPY being so evil, aren’t they?

Lourdes on July 10, 2013 at 1:35 PM

What’s to advertise?

It’s. The. Law.

CurtZHP on July 10, 2013 at 1:38 PM

You could spend a billion dollars advertising scabies, and it’d still be unpopular too. The amazing thing is that these gangsters got re-elected after ramming Obamcare through and doing whatever it was that needed to be done to get that bizarre SCOTUS decision.

forest on July 10, 2013 at 1:38 PM

It’s just another way of distributing money to his cronies.

Blake on July 10, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Remember the rocky rollout of the Medicare prescription drug program in 2006? There were glitches and stories about people who couldn’t navigate the system or get the help they needed. Eventually, however, goodwill, patience and sincere effort by just about everyone involved ironed out the kinks in Medicare Part D. It’s so popular now that no one would dare try to eliminate it.

That USA today Left-wing editorial linked above is pathetic. Medicare Part D is not comparable to ObamaCare. They are completely different animals. It’s deceptive to compare them as proof that ObamaCare is a good policy.

But implementation of the health care law may be even bumpier than the Part D rollout. For starters, its ambitions are much broader—it hopes to overhaul existing insurance markets, change the way doctors and hospitals deliver medicine, and expand state Medicaid programs—in addition to establishing the online insurance marketplaces for the uninsured. That makes CMS’s mission more complex in kind and in degree. The agency’s digital systems will need to communicate with many more organizations than the Part D networks did, increasing the odds of failures and crashes. Comprehensive health insurance products are also necessarily more complicated and expensive than a stand-alone drug benefit. (A typical Part D premium is $30; health insurance premiums will run into the thousands of dollars a year for higher-income Americans.) It “is going to dwarf what we saw with Medicare Part D by an amount of degrees that I can’t even calculate,” says Nora Eisenhower, who was Pennsylvania’s secretary of aging in 2006 and is now at the National Council on Aging.

The Obama administration also faces much greater challenges in enrolling beneficiaries

visions on July 10, 2013 at 1:53 PM

WWPVJD?

What would President Valerie Jarrett do?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/07/03/white-house-wrote-memo-on-magic-of-valerie-jarrett/

After an article in the New York Times painted Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett in a somewhat unflattering light, the White House sent out a memo to staff with ways to praise the adviser, Mark Leibovich reports in his upcoming book “This Town.” A copy of the book was obtained by the Washington Post.

[A] top Obama aide forwarded me a set of confidential talking points that were circulated through the West Wing when Becker was reporting her story. The memo, written by deputy press secretary Jamie Smith, was titled “The Magic of Valerie.” It included an unrelenting thirty-three talking points, none of which contained the term “manageable problem.” [...]

(My personal favorite “Magic of Valerie” bullet point is the one where we learn that “Valerie is someone who other people inside the building know they can trust. (need examples.”)

Other talking points emphasize Jarrett’s intelligence, empathy, her life experience and her drive. The memo was first reported on by BuzzFeed.

Elsewhere in the book, Leibovich writes that some in the White House believe Jarrett got Secret Service protection only because she wanted to feel as important as fellow Obama aide David Axelrod, who was given a detail after the FBI found information about him on the shooter who attacked the Holocaust museum in 2009.

PappyD61 on July 10, 2013 at 1:53 PM

With Obamacare sinking fast, wait for Sebelius to step off the sinking ship soon?

Amazingoly on July 10, 2013 at 1:57 PM

Why does the government have to advertise what’s a done deal? Does Obama need the extra ego inflation to have a few more people agree with him?

Liam on July 10, 2013 at 1:59 PM

How many people have died without healthcare while these people blow money on ads!? How many children go hungry who could have been fed with all of that wasted money? How many cute little kittens have been left to shiver in back alleys while admen are rolling in the billion dollars that could have been used to buy those innocent kitties v-neck sweaters and foie gras?

forest on July 10, 2013 at 2:05 PM

That photo on the main page with this post: it’s like they’re SO HAPPY being so evil, aren’t they?

Lourdes on July 10, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Well, Hitler enjoyed children and puppies too. Evil and happy are not mutually exclusive states of being.

Happy Nomad on July 10, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Free health care, b*tches. That’s all they need to tout.

Philly on July 10, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Goons in action

Schadenfreude on July 10, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Blowing a billion dollars on propaganda has never fed a single hungry child.

jukin3 on July 10, 2013 at 2:20 PM

The billion-dollar ObamaCare advertising campaign

Are they throwing in a Ginsu knife set if you act now??

ToddPA on July 10, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Two grinning baboons.

acyl72 on July 10, 2013 at 2:24 PM

I never get tired of these photos. My favorite is still the applauding pony-tail doctor pic, though President Obama grinning with Peter Orszag is close behind. This one with Sec Sebelius may have ascended to the third slot. Love the way they chuckle over every screw-up!

Chuckles3 on July 10, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Are they throwing in a Ginsu knife set if you act now??

ToddPA on July 10, 2013 at 2:22 PM

That would be your ObamaGinsu surgical set. You get high quality cutlery BUT WAIT there’s more! You also get a handy instruction book (written by IKEA) for those self-surgery situations where Obamacare simply won’t cover your tonsilectomy or vasectomy.

Happy Nomad on July 10, 2013 at 2:27 PM

It still looks like a pig even with lipstick.

TooTall on July 10, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Blowing a billion dollars on propaganda has never fed a single hungry child.

jukin3 on July 10, 2013 at 2:20 PM

Sure it has. The children of the Dem’s crony ad agency execs are eating VERY well….

dentarthurdent on July 10, 2013 at 2:39 PM

It still looks like a pig even with lipstick.

TooTall on July 10, 2013 at 2:36 PM

But you WILL learn to love that pig, and enjoy being rolled around in the mud – or else.

dentarthurdent on July 10, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Are they throwing in a Ginsu knife set if you act now??

ToddPA on July 10, 2013 at 2:22 PM

No dangerous weapons allowed.
You can get a bamaphone though….

dentarthurdent on July 10, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Not only will we spend thousands of dollars on the John Roberts tax, but our tax dollars will be spent telling us how much we should love Big Brother’s healthcare swindle that we really hate.

Just smear more lipstick on that pig with our money, and maybe we won’t believe our lying noses.

Steve Z on July 10, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Hmmmm. I see an area where sequester cuts are necessary.

onlineanalyst on July 10, 2013 at 2:58 PM

When the “Patients’ Affordable Dentristy Act” is passed, we can bring in this expert to craft and promote it.

In a bad economy, just another way to save money…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=WR8tIjTykbE&feature=youtu.be

onlineanalyst on July 10, 2013 at 3:10 PM

I cannot imagine the amount of money he has spent on promoting this law. It is staggering. Remember when he was trying to get the law passed and was traveling to cities daily promoting the law. Even now it remains unpopular. Who is signing all these checks. Doesn’t spending originate in the House.

rjoco1 on July 10, 2013 at 4:29 PM

These dolts should be arrested, tried, convicted and jailed.

rplat on July 10, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Get your subsidized coverage, no questions asked.

Philly on July 10, 2013 at 5:30 PM