Federal Officials Look To Mass Marketing To Sell Health Law

The administration faces a tough challenge to get the public to understand and accept the health law -- and, then, to sign up the millions without coverage.

The Associated Press: Can Mass Marketing Heal The Splits On 'Obamacare'?
How do you convince millions of average Americans that one of the most complex and controversial programs devised by government may actually be a good deal for them? With the nation still split over President Barack Obama's health care law, the administration has turned to the science of mass marketing for help in understanding the lives of uninsured people, hoping to craft winning pitches for a surprisingly varied group in society (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/1).

Kaiser Health News: Why Uninsured Might Not Flock To Health Law's Marketplaces
With almost one in five of its residents lacking health insurance, officials in Palm Beach County thought they had hit on a smart solution. The county launched a program that offered subsidized coverage to residents who couldn't afford private insurance, but made too much to qualify for Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor. Enrollees would be able to buy policies for about $52 a month -- far cheaper than what private insurers were offering. But a year after the program began, fewer than 500 people had signed up -- less than a third of the number expected (Galewitz, 4/1).

NPR: Three Years On, States Still Struggle With Health Care Law Messaging
It is hard to imagine that after three years of acrimony and debate we could still be so confused about President Obama's Affordable Care Act. ... There are essentially three big pieces to the Affordable Care Act: the insurance reforms (also known as the patients' bill of rights), quality and cost measures, and the health care mandate. .... For consumers, however, it doesn't matter if you're in Texas or California or anywhere else in the country, the law is clear: The uninsured are expected to get coverage by January. Whether those folks will be informed and ready by then is not so clear (Sullivan, 3/30).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Obama's 2014 Budget Could Mean Significant Change For Medicare
On April 10, President Obama will enter the ongoing 2014 budget battle when the White House releases its budget blueprint, joining Senate Democrats and both parties in the House in a partisan scuffle over the nation’s fiscal future. If it’s anything like what the president put forth last year, the Medicare-related parts of the White House budget will focus on containing costs by reforming the Medicare payment system and reducing fraud and waste while maintaining the Traditional Medicare structure (Adamopoulos, 3/31).

Meanwhile, federal officials released rules Friday reiterating their plans for expanded Medicaid funding under the health law -

Modern Healthcare: CMS Considering Waivers For Private Coverage Medicaid Alternative
The Obama administration is showing willingness to let some states steer new Medicaid funding to private coverage in the new individual insurance marketplaces in order meet the coverage goals of the healthcare reform law. The CMS will consider granting a "limited number" of state waivers for demonstration that test what happens when states give Medicaid enrollees the option of taking a subsidy to buy a private plan, according to new guidance issued Friday (Blesch, 3/31).

Bloomberg: Some U.S. States Can Shift Medicaid Funds To Exchanges
Low-income people may get Medicaid money to buy health insurance from private plans such as UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) or Humana Inc. (HUM) in a "limited number" of states, U.S. officials said. Arkansas and Ohio have asked President Barack Obama's administration to allow them to adjust how Medicaid dollars are used (Wayne, 3/30).

The Hill: Obama Administration Finalizes Key Affordable Care Act Rule
The federal government will reimburse states for 100 percent of the costs for some newly eligible Medicaid patients, under new regulations finalized Friday as part of the Obama administration's implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The healthcare law authorizes states to expand Medicaid to adults under 65 with incomes up to 135 percent of the federal poverty level — roughly $15,000 for a single adult in 2012 (Goad, 3/29).

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