August 22 2013
ObamaCare by the Numbers
Patrice J. Lee
For politicos, every election and policy fight comes down to numbers. People spend countless hours drawing maps, counting supporters and opposition, and trying to predict who must be targeted to get a win.
Politico drilled down into the numbers on what it will take to make ObamaCare work. These are the numbers that keep President Obama, Kathleen Sebelius and Enroll America, the PR nonprofit group pushing ObamaCare, up at night. They are driving which states get the most money, ink and attention. Does it feel like a presidential election yet?
Those fighting valiantly to defund or stymie enrollment efforts probably already know all of this, but for the non-politicos here’s a crib-sheet version of key numbers.
- 46 million – The total number of uninsured people in the nation. California, Florida and Texas are home to more than one-third of them.
- 19 million – The total number of uninsured young people (between ages 18-34) in the nation.
- 7 million – The enrollment goal in the first year of ObamaCare. That’s just under 10% of the total uninsured population.
- 2.7 million – The enrollment goal of young adults between the ages of 18 and 35. That’s just over 10% of all uninsured young adults.
There’s more to the story than just these raw numbers. Behind them is how the administration plans to use its resouces, including time. If you haven’t noticed some states are getting a lot more play in the press than others.
President Barack Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and outside groups such as Enroll America are already dedicating time and resources to playing big in Texas and Florida — the two states with the largest uninsured population and resistance from the local Republican-led governments.
Obama also gave one of his rare health care speeches on a June visit to California, which is the only one of the big three to embrace the health law and put significant money and energy of its own into outreach.
But just like in an election, there’s more than one way to do the math. These three “swing” states could have an outsize impact, but the White House and its allies are also putting energy into a second tier of high-impact states that have lots of uninsured people — and in most cases GOP governors who to varying degrees oppose the president’s health law. They include Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Illinois.
So for its 5.8 million uninsured (2.3 million young uninsured) groups in the Lone Star state just received $10.9 million to spend on navigators (people to enroll Americans in ObamaCare). Florida received a $7.9 million navigator grant.
The whole business is nauseating. That’s for several reasons. First, it feels like a presidential campaign all over again. If my instincts are right, just like the tsunami of polling, exit polling and number-crunching by talking heads we saw on the news right up to the concession speeches, we’re probably going to be seeing a lot of that between enrollment day on October 1st and when ObamaCare kicks in 2014.
Second, spending millions of taxpayer resources on marketing campaigns featuring big blue oxen or teaching high school students how to be foot soldiers for ObamaCare smells like a waste of resources.
But most importantly, the end game is not just about reaching that magic number on election night. It’s about seeing a huge, new government program get off the ground and more of our freedoms to choose slip away from under our feet.