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Obamacare ads targeted at red states that rejected exchanges

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TND Guest Contributor / Eric Boehm /

Millions of tax dollars will be used to advertise Obamacare in “red” states with Republican governors who opposed the federal exchanges in the Affordable Care Act.

Politico reports the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has reserved more than $12 million of air time in a dozen states beginning Sept. 30 for Obamacare television advertisements.

The states being targeted: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.

Missouri is the only state on the list that doesn’t have a Republican governor.

The health insurance exchanges are a crucial piece of the federal ACA. Designed to operate like travel booking sites, exchanges will allow individuals to shop around for health coverage if they don’t have it provided by an employer and don’t qualify for Medicaid.

Subsidies will be available to help defray the cost of purchasing health insurance, but those who choose not to purchase coverage will be hit with fines in the form of tax penalties.

Not everyone is on board with the idea of the federal government using tax dollars to advertise its shiny new get-your-health-insurance-here machine.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week blasting the advertisement plan as “blatant misuse of federal dollars to promote a fundamentally flawed law.”

“It is unconscionable to spend taxpayer dollars to promote and advertise ObamaCare plans that have yet to be finalized,” Rubio wrote.

The Department of Health and Human Services did not return calls and emails for comment Thursday.

Exchanges are supposed to come online Oct. 1, but Republicans in Congress have requested a delay in their implementation and many Republican governors and state legislatures have rejected exchanges entirely, leaving the federal government to manage them instead.

The federal government is also spending $67 million on “navigators” to help individuals and businesses figure out how to work the new exchanges and other aspects of the ACA.

The promotional efforts don’t end there. As examined last month, the Obama administration and state officials supportive of the ACA plan to use everything from port-a-potties to bottles of sunscreen to advertise the new law.

Why the massive advertising effort? Probably because polls continue to show that most Americans have no idea that Obamacare is the law of the land — and even fewer understand any aspect contained within its 2,000-plus pages.

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Eric Boehm can be reached at [email protected] and follow him at @EricBoehm87 on Twitter.

He writes for, an online news organization that publishes articles by independent journalists covering state-specific and local government activity. The program began in September 2009, a project of Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting new media journalism.

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