Reports of the Obama administration’s demise appear once again to have been exaggerated. Despite widespread backlash to the president’s Big Lie and the Procrustean provisions of his health care law, not to mention its storm-roiled rollout, the tide of public opinion is rising again in his favor, if ever so slightly. The law itself is suddenly receiving more positive reviews from the same mainstream media outlets that were bashing it mere days ago.
A headline in the Christian Science Monitor reads, “Is Obamacare on the rebound? Media turn to positive stories.” The “media narrative,” writes author Linda Feldmann, “is starting to look up. Or to put it more precisely, it is no longer so crushingly negative.”
So what is behind this trend? Feldmann hazards a guess that the “wave of positive stories may be a media effect: Reporters (and the public) get tired of all the wall-to-wall negativity, and to keep interest up, seek out happy stories for a change of pace.” I don’t recall this effect manifesting itself when George W. Bush was in the White House. Back then, the press seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of negative material to report and polling suggested a hearty public appetite for the “news.”
A more likely explanation is that we are witnessing a rebranding effort of the health care law. Joe Schoffstall of Capitol City Project reports that Families USA (FUSA) — an organization that bills itself as a “national nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans” — received a $1.1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to gather “success stories” of Americans dealing with Obamacare and distribute the same to the media.
The organization, Schoffstall goes on to underscore, is a far cry from “non-partisan” and extremely close to the Obama Administration and Enroll America – the group spearheading the efforts to sign people up for Obamacare.
Philippe Villers, the president of Families USA, serves as the Secretary and Treasurer of Board of a little-known group called the Herndon Alliance. The Herndon Alliance originated in Herndon, VA in 2005 and produced research the left used to sell the overhaul of the United States health care system and counteract opposition as the president was making a push for Obamacare. As Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon noted, they are credited with crafting President Obama’s, ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it’ message, and are even backed with money from George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
In 2009 Politico wrote, “When President Barack Obama says Americans can maintain their ‘choice’ of doctors and insurance plans, he is using a Herndon strategy for wringing fear out of a system overhaul.” They were also described as, “the most influential group in the health arena that the public has never heard of.”
Ron Pollack, the above mentioned co-founder and Executive Director of Families USA, told the Washington Post in a 2010 interview after the passage of Obamacare that he was going to help found a group called Enroll America in order to raise millions of dollars to assist with enrollment.
‘We’re actually helping to found a new organization to work on this. Its placeholder name is Enroll America, and it will involve all the different interest groups, from supporters of reform like consumers groups to community health centers and doctors and insurers,’ Pollack told Ezra Klein during an interview. He continued, ‘And what we’ll do is raise tens of millions of dollars for state groups to work with the state to try to create the most effective systems to apply and enroll. You should be able to enroll with simple application forms at a doctor’s office or a pharmacy. You shouldn’t have to take the day off of work. That sort of thing.’
In fact, the grants given by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation show Families USA and Enroll America are in the exact same office building, in the exact same suite.
For the record, the amount of the grant is far from compelling in the grand scheme of things. Nor does it come directly from the administration, though — rest assured — the White House has embarked on its own major repackaging of Obamacare (at taxpayer expense, of course). Here is the president weighing in on that topic at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Annual Meeting in Washington. A video of his remarks follows the transcript:
Look, I am confident that the model that we built, which works off of the existing private insurance system, is one that will succeed.
We are going to have to, (a) fix the website so everybody feels confident about that. We’re going to have to, obviously, re-market and re-brand, and that will be challenging in this political environment.
Even if the White House and its abettors succeed in putting a positive spin on Obamacare, they have yet to explain how they will deal with several unresolved problems. Chief among these is the ongoing reluctance of Millennials to enter the market in order to dilute the risk pool. Although some people between the ages of 18 and 35 are signing up in the exchanges, many of them are sick, which is but one two conditions the financial health of the law depends on for survival. Another problem not yet encountered is the inevitable longer waits for health service and treatment in the event the estimated 25 million people currently without health insurance eventually enroll.
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