The Department of Health and Human Services has just handed out a $3.1 million PR contract to improve the public image of Obamacare. Advertising Age reports that the firm Weber Shandwick will help “roll out a campaign to convince skeptical — or simply confused — Americans the Affordable Care Act is good for them and convince them to enroll in a health plan.”
Obama officials insist the ads won’t be political, but critics recall that just before the 2010 midterm election, HHS spent $3.2 million on “educational” TV ads praising Obamacare. The spots featured the late actor Andy Griffith, a favorite of seniors, who told his fellow retirees that “more good things are coming” from Medicare. But FactCheck, a nonpartisan project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, noted that the ads made no mention of the dramatic cuts to 10 million Medicare Advantage recipients, who are likely to see their privately managed care scaled back. “The words in this ad ring hollow, and the promise that ‘benefits will remain the same’ is just as fictional as the town of Mayberry was when Griffith played the local sheriff,” FactCheck concluded in July 2010.
Indeed, the facts today are that Obamacare remains as unpopular now as when it was passed in 2010, and Democrats are increasingly worried it will return to haunt them in the midterm election next year, the first to take place after the stepped-up implementation of the law. Reporters at the Cook Political Report, a respected Washington watcher of election trends, noted this month that “almost all” of the Democratic insiders they talked to “voiced concern about the potential for the issue to hurt Democrats in 2014.” At no point since its passage has Obamacare been viewed favorably by more than 45 percent of voters, and the latest Kaiser Family Health Foundation poll pegs its nationwide support at only 37 percent.