Corporations, Secret Money Pushing ObamaCare to Youth

Published April 3, 2013

President Obama may denounce secret money in politics, but his allies are not shy about pushing his agenda using corporate money and nonprofits who do not disclose their donors. Two of these organizations are working to increase the popularity of the Affordable Care Act, or “ObamaCare,” among young adults.

The two nonprofits spearheading this campaign are Organizing for Action—the successor to the Obama campaign entity Organizing for America—and Enroll America. The Board of Directors of Enroll America includes Debra Barrett of Teva Pharmaceuticals, Tom Epstein of Blue Shield of California, Anthony Barrueta of Kaiser Permanente, and Richard Umbdenstock, the CEO of the American Hospital Association.

This alliance of corporations and nonprofits that do not disclose their donors seems to contradict President Obama’s rhetoric. In 2010, President Obama told an audience in Philadelphia, “You can’t stand by and let the special interests drown out the voices of the American people.” The president has also attacked corporations for being “special interests” that “fight back” whenever health insurance reform is near.

Targeting Young People

Tim Carney, the senior political columnist for the Washington Examiner, sees this as a continuation of the efforts to pass ACA.

“From the beginning, Obamacare was pushed by big-business lobbyists,” said Carney. “We now know that the White House let the drug lobby write large portions of the bill. The hospital lobby had a hand in it, too. So I’m not surprised at all if these same special interests are behind this latest push. And no one who pays attention to Obama’s actions on special-interest money is surprised anymore when they clash with his words.”

According to Carney, targeting young people is important for groups that are pushing public support of ACA, because young people’s response to skyrocketing health insurance premiums will have an enormous ripple effect on the market.

A recent survey of insurers by the American Action Forum found a bare-bones policy for a 27-year-old male nonsmoker will be nearly 190 percent higher in the individual market under Obamacare than it was under prior law. If young people opt to go without insurance and instead pay the penalty for being uninsured, it will drive older Americans’ insurance premiums significantly higher.