Friday, August 2, 2013

Obamacare: Progressives Launch Effort to Fight Back Opponents

By Claudio Iván Remeseira | Posted Friday, August 2, 2023, at 11:10 a.m. ET

As Congress goes its summer recess, progressive forces want to take the health care debate to the grassroots.

Two leading advocacy organizations, Protect Your Care and  Americans United For Change, have joined forces to promote the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – popularly known as Obamacare — in some battleground states  and  among demographic groups that could benefit the most from its implementation, notably women, the elderly, and Latinos. This partnership entails a series of actions aimed at increasing the public's awareness of the specifics of the law and at countering the onslaught led by Tea-Party Republicans in Capitol Hill who want to defund and, if possible, repeal it.    

“Republicans are trying to kill Obamacare without offering nothing in return, without any suggestion for jobs, immigration, or gun control,” says Brad Woodhouse, from Americans United for Change, at a conference call held on Thursday. Defunding Obamacare has indeed become the GOP right wing's battle cry against government spending and the Obama admnistration. Senators Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio of Florida are among the leading voices of an offensive that has opened a big division within the Republican party

Cruz, Paul and Lee appeared onstage together Wednesday night at a conference sponsored by Young Americans for Liberty, where they dismissed criticisms from their own party to cheerful youthfulcrowds. The following day, MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews sent ripples through the political blogosphere when he defined Senator Cruz as a "political terrorist" for his attempt to derail Obamacare and the government in general.

The PYC /AUC initiative is a response to the concern among Democratic strategists to avoid a repeat of the summer of 2009, when a conservative wave took over the country and pummeled Obama’s health care proposal. Despite the passing of the law, 53 percent of voters still have a negative view of Obamacare. Woodhouse and his colleague Eddie Vale from Protect Your Care believe this negative view can be reversed with information. “When the law is properly explained, people support it,” says Vale.

Allert Brown-Gort, Faculty Fellow at University of Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies agrees that misinformation has a lot to do with it. One of the provisions of the law says that insurers can only use 25 percent of their resources in administrative expenses, and that any overhead must be returned to their clients. This year, people started receiving refund checks, but few knew what that money was for. “The government has been unable to advertise Obamacare in part because of the obstructionist ways of the GOP in Congress, which have already succeeded in defunding some programs that were key to that purpose,” says Brown-Gort.

Similarly, 69 percent of Latinos are confused about the ACA but a majority of them support the law once it is explained to them, a LatinoDecisions survey shows.

However, Brown-Gort also believes that there is a core of Tea Party Republicans–probably around 20 to 25 percent of voters--that will oppose Obamacare no matter what."Ted Cruz or Rand Paul are pandering to that group, and will continue to do so both for ideological and for practical, political reasons,” he says.

In any case, those figures reveal that there is plenty of room for the public’s acceptance of Obamacare to grow. The PYC /AUC initiative will therefore engage in town hall meetings, university round tables, senior homes talks, door-to-door drives and other events coordinated with churches, community leaders, unions and advocacy groups such as  SEIU, AFSCME, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Enroll America, Organizing for Action and and the Center for American Progress. There will also be “truth squads” targeting conservative events, as well as media and advertising campaigns. 

Democratic strategists such as Stephanie Carter and Jackie Lee, a veteran of the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns in Florida, will oversee the on-the-ground operations. The organizers said that a rolling schedule of events will be available by next week.

The efforts will be focused on ten states: Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. Except for Illinois, all of those states’ legislatures have decided not to move forward with or have ongoing debates about expanding Medicaid under the ACA. Medicaid expansion is a crucial component of the law, amounting to about half of Obamacare’s insurance expansion.

According to the National Council of La Raza, nearly one in three uninsured people in the U.S. are Hispanic. Among undocumented immigrants, the rate of uninsured is significantly higher across all age groups, reaching 61 percent of those between 18 and 64 years old—the bulk of the immigrant working force.

Latino children are more than twice likely to be uninsured than white children, and of those who are covered nearly half receive their benefits through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), programs that would be seriously hit by an eventual shutdown of the Government in the fall.  

“Republicans have overplayed their hand; the time is ripe for the tide to turn,” says Woodhouse. “We are excited about our ability to promote Obamacare so that it can bring its benefits to the people.”

Read it also at NBCLatino.

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