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In Stubborn Red States, Outside Groups Are Stepping In To Teach Americans About Obamacare

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"In Stubborn Red States, Outside Groups Are Stepping In To Teach Americans About Obamacare"

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CREDIT: Department of Health and Human Services

With less than 50 days until Obamacare’s statewide insurance marketplaces officially open for business, the outreach organization Enroll America is gearing up its campaign to help uninsured Americans sign up for health coverage under the law. While the effort is a national one, the group finds itself focusing on a core group of red states where many officials have all but refused to educate their uninsured constituents about Obamacare.

Enroll America is homing in on Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas for its education and outreach measures. Those states have some of the highest rates of uninsurance in America and — with the exception of Illinois — are almost exclusively run by GOP governors and legislatures hostile to Obamacare.

Most GOP-led states have already withheld basic health benefits from millions of low-income residents by rejecting the law’s optional Medicaid expansion. Now, some are also threatening to refuse to enforce some of Obamacare’s most basic and popular provisions, such as the ban on denying insurance to Americans with a pre-existing medical condition. A few congressional Republicans have gone so far as to refuse to answer their own constituents’ questions about Obamacare. And to date, groups opposed to the health law have vastly outspent its supporters, employing campaign-style tactics to air misleading ads about health reform.

Those efforts have helped foster plenty of confusion about the health law — recent surveys have shown that over 40 percent of Americans are still unsure whether or not Obamacare is the law of the land. And in many cases, the people who are the most confused about health reform are the same ones who will benefit the most from it. Over 43 percent of the uninsured are unaware that they will be required to buy insurance with the help of government subsidies next year.

That’s why groups like Enroll America are using clusters of community organizations and thousands of on-the-ground volunteers to identify uninsured Americans who may qualify for Obamacare subsidies or expanded Medicaid coverage under the law. Currently, the group is using back-to-school events at community colleges to highlight coming changes to the health care industry and even knocking on doors to find Americans who may take advantage of the law. “This is not a conversation about politics,” said Enroll America President Anne Filipic in an interview with The Hill. “This is a conversation about what does this mean to you, to your family, to your pocketbook. And there’s such power in that.”

Nevertheless, given the politically contentious atmosphere, Enroll America and its affiliated outreach groups are avoiding terms like “Obamacare” in their education campaigns. Instead, they’re focusing on the plainspoken details about upcoming changes to U.S. health care. “People are really hungry for the facts,” Filipic told The Hill.

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