Inside the Beltway: Even titillating tactics fail to peddle Obamacare

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Though a reported $684 million in taxpayer funds has been designated to promote Obamacare, health care providers are still failing to attract young, healthy Americans who will shore up the cost. Their answer? Frat boy talk is the best outreach, at least according to the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative — which recently wooed males with a raucous pitch for “bro-surance” that included a beer keg.

But alas. Make room for the unsavory term “ho-surance,” which has now entered the national discourse. The same Denver-based group is pitching young women with titillating suggestions:

“Let’s get physical. OMG, he’s hot! Let’s hope he’s as easy to get as this birth control. My health insurance covers the pill, which means all I have to worry about is getting him between the covers. I got insurance. Now you can too. Thanks Obamacare!” the ad proclaims. Twenty more pitches rife with hip references can be found here: Doyougotinsurance.com.

Hubbub has ensued in social media. Multiple waggish critics proclaimed the ads promoted “ho-surance” while others recalled the appearance of Sandra Fluke, the young woman who supported “reproductive justice” and supported a health care mandate for birth control during a 2012 appearance before Congress. Young conservatives, meanwhile, condemned the Colorado outreach.

“This new Obamacare GotInsurance ad has got to be offensive to women, correct, or am I just a square?” tweeted NRA talk radio host Cameron Gray.

“Under 30? This is what pathetic old people who make ads for a living think of you,” declared David Fredosso, a columnist who created a parody of the outreach using embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, with the caption “Crack got you down? Well Obamacare can help you get on your feet.”

And the effect on young women?

“The sad part is, ‘Thanks Obamacare’ actually thinks the ads they just put out targeting young women are helping,” commented Townhall news editor Katie Pavlich, who is 25, incidentally. “Hey thanks, Obamacare, for erasing what feminists have been fighting for decades to achieve: respect.”

The Republican National Committee has countered with a quartet of new videos aimed at the young and restless; find them here. And on Wednesday, C-SPAN broadcasts a live hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee examining the troubled implementation of the health care law, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

CONGRESS: THE ULTIMATE MOMENT OF DREAD

A moment of disquiet on Capitol Hill? This must be it: “Americans’ approval of the way Congress is handling its job has dropped to 9 percent, the lowest in Gallup’s 39-year history of asking the question,” reports Frank Newport, director of Gallup.

FOR THE LEXICON

“The Obamacare Dozen”

— Those Democratic senators up for re-election, who cast a decisive vote for Obamacare and are “starting to panic” that health care reform will compromise their chances in the 2014 midterms.

“The Obamacare Dozen are receiving an overdue education in the damaging consequences of the bill they supported, all of which were predicted by critics in 2010. Any one of these senators could have prevented the current madness by voting no,” reports a Wall Street Journal editorial, which also coined the term.

And the Dirty Dozen? They are: Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Al Franken of Minnesota, Kay R. Hagan of North Carolina, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Mark L. Pryor of Arkansas, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Udall of Colorado, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Mark R. Warner of Virginia.

FROM THE ‘HEH’ DESK

What with recent White House news that some 50,000 people have signed up for Obamacare, the National Republican Congressional Committee points out that there are more 100-year-olds in the U.S. — 53,364 based on Census figures — than health care enrollees. But there is a tie, the Republicans admit.

The Guinness Book of World Records receives an average 50,000 requests a year from those seeking recognition for the biggest, the tallest and other designations.

THE MENTAL STATE

There’s another reason to be uneasy about Obamacare, predicts Dr. Prakash Masand, a psychiatrist who is now an educational consultant and a former consulting professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.

“On Jan. 1, tens of millions of people will be eligible for mental health and substance abuse services, which are no longer an option and must be included in a health insurance policy,” he says.

“Obamacare isn’t adding more physicians, but instead is bringing millions more patients to the already shortage of qualified mental health specialists. So while it’s a nice thought that everyone has access to care, the reality is that the system won’t be able to accommodate the influx of eligible new patients,” Dr. Masand notes.

DON’T DUST OFF THE CROWN YET

There is considerable glee among Democrats who believe they will rule politics forever and ever because there’s no unity or mission in the Republican Party anymore. But wait. It may be time for the Democrats to face the same issue.

“Liberal leaders want Hillary Clinton to face a primary challenge in 2016 if she decides to run for president. The goal of such a challenge wouldn’t necessarily be to defeat Clinton. It would be to prevent her from moving to the middle during the Democratic primary,” says Alexander Bolton, a Senate reporter for The Hill.

Yes, well. That dreaded, pesky middle.

“I do think the country would be well served if we had somebody who would force a real debate about the policies of the Democratic Party and force the party to debate positions and avoid a coronation,” Roger Hickey, co-director of the aggressive progressive group Campaign for America’s Future, tells Mr. Bolton.

FAT CHANCE

The public is not keen on the proverbial nanny state, as envisioned by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other public officials. While 63 percent of Americans say that obesity has an impact on society, 54 percent also say that the government should not play a role in reducing obesity. Thirty-seven percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Republicans agree. So says a new Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday.

Citizens, in fact, have gotten very succinct in what they will and will not abide. Two-thirds favor restaurants offering calorie counts on menus while 55 percent approve of a ban on TV ads for unhealthy foods during children’s programming. But 52 percent condemn the plan to prohibit the use of trans fats in food, 64 percent oppose raising taxes on sugar-laden soft drinks and other temptations while more than two-thirds oppose limits on soft drink sizes in restaurants and convenience stores.

POLL DU JOUR

90 percent of Americans say the “people in Washington are out of touch with the rest of the country.”

85 percent agree that “the people running the country don’t really care what happens to you.”

80 percent believe that the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer.

69 percent think that most “people with power” try to take advantage of them.

61 percent agree that what they think “doesn’t count very much anymore.”

38 percent feel left out of things in their own personal environment.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,368 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 16 and 21 and released Tuesday.

Accolades and annoyances to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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