President Obama wants millions of new recruiters for Obamacare, so he is drafting federal workers — including soldiers — to ask their friends and family to sign up for coverage at HealthCare.gov.
Each worker is being asked to recruit at least one enrollee.
The Office of Personnel Management, which the White House uses to oversee the millions of federal employees, has provided pro-Obamacare fliers and postcards for workers to distribute before the enrollment deadline Sunday.
With 2.7 million civilian federal employees plus 1.5 million in the military, that’s over 4 million potential recruiters drafted to boost the so-called Affordable Care Act. Their efforts are in addition to estimated annual marketing costs of $674 million, according to The Associated Press. Critics claim promotion costs are closer to $1 billion a year to sell the law to the American public.
For example, civilian and military personnel at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, were asked to boost Obamacare, via a Feb. 4 email sent by the Department of Defense’s human resource director, Ronna Garrett. Attached were PDF files of fliers, postcards and bulletin board material. Citing a request by OPM to multiple federal agencies and departments, the email states: “OPM’s desired outcome is to encourage every federal employee to talk to just one person about the [Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges], thereby informing millions of people about the affordable, quality health insurance options available on HealthCare.gov.”
The email went on: “These [attached] materials are intended to encourage federal employees to talk to their uninsured friends and family members about HealthCare.gov and the Health Insurance Marketplace.”
The distribution list for Ms. Garrett’s email indicates that it was sent to civilians working for the Army. However, it also was received by some uniformed personnel.
The Department of Defense is not alone in shilling for Obamacare. The Department of the Interior has an item on its website, dated Jan. 30, that provides the OPM handout and tells workers, “Do you have friends or family members who need health insurance? If so, you may want to encourage them to go to healthcare.gov.”
OPM’s website features a PDF file of the flier, which repeats the core message to federal workers: “Do you have friends, family members or neighbors who need health insurance? Help spread the word. Tell people you care about to go to healthcare.gov.”
The material also reminds government workers that they don’t need to go to the Obamacare website themselves, because they already get insurance through the federal government.
The White House claims 7.1 million Americans had signed up for the federally subsidized Obamacare exchanges by the end of 2014, rising to over 9 million in January. Critics say most of the enrollees were insured before the law was enacted but were forced to enter the federal program because their policies were effectively canceled by the law itself.
Other reports indicate that most previously uninsured individuals were placed on Medicaid rolls or otherwise have had their insurance costs mostly subsidized by taxpayers, instead of having to pay their own premiums.
These millions of workers are being asked to pitch a faulty product. They actually make the worst kinds of salesmen — namely people who don’t use the product that they’re promoting. As federal workers, they are exempt from Obamacare. For that, they should be grateful.
• Ernest Istook is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma. Get his free email newsletter by signing up at eepurl.com/JPojD.