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Selling Obamacare — and Influence
By Jon Gabriel on May 12, 2013
Author, comedian and podcaster extraordinaire Adam Carolla stumbled upon an important business insight: “I don't think I've ever seen pie advertised,” he said. “That's how you know it's good. They advertise ice cream and other desserts. They advertise the bejeezus out of yogurt, but I haven't seen one pie commercial.”
The dirty little secret about advertising is that, in general, the better the product, the less you have to advertise.
The best restaurant in town is packed every night without buying an ad. You chose your auto mechanic because your gearhead uncle swears he runs the only honest shop in town. And do you hear more about Harley Davidson from TV spots or from your co-worker who wears a Harley jacket and drinks from a Harley coffee mug while driving a Harley-edition truck?
Usually, the brands that advertise most are those offering forgettable quality at an unexceptional price with poor service. The need to tell you they’re great because no one else will.
Which is why no one was surprised when the Obama administration announced they’ll spend $150 million to promote the glories of Obamacare to the American people.
This latest PR boondoggle is aimed at community health centers, according to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Health centers have extensive experience providing eligibility assistance to patients, are providing care in communities across the nation, and are well positioned to support enrollment efforts,” Sebelius said.
If the so-called Affordable Care Act is such a blessing to the uninsured, Americans would be flocking to the nearest federal agency demanding their free slice of government pie. Instead, the plan is as unpopular as ever and dropping.
But the $150 million ad campaign is just the start. Sebelius is now shaking down health industry execs, asking them to kick in millions to market Obamacare. The same executives Sebelius is in charge of regulating.
Nice medical company you’ve got there. I’d hate to see all the new regulations I’m writing drive it out of business.
Even the Obama-adoring Washington Post seems nervous at the implications.
Sebelius must walk a tightrope in asking for money. Federal regulations do not allow department officials to fundraise in their professional capacity. They do, however, allow cabinet members to solicit donations as private citizens “if you do not solicit funds from a subordinate or from someone who has or seeks business with the Department, and you do not use your official title,” according to Justice department regulations.
“It sounds like the people she’s going to are people that are being regulated by her agency, I think that is definitely problematic,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center. “That’s not a statement about the value of the law, but it’s a statement about using the power of government to compel giving or insinuate that giving is going to be looked at favorably by the government.”
You can describe "socialism" as the collusion of government and business. You can use the same description for "corruption."
At a time when health care costs are draining the personal budgets of most Americans, selling “free” insurance should be as easy as pie. But citizens across the political spectrum know that Obamacare is a bad product that will only get worse.
Follow Jon on Twitter at @ExJon.