by Michael Patrick Leahy 3 Oct 2013, 5:58 AM PDT
One of the featured speakers on an Organizing for Action (OFA) conference call Wednesday night designed to generate enthusiasm for President Obama's signature health care legislation among community organizers around the country, admitted on the call that Obamacare is unpopular in polls. The speaker, identified as David Cutler, advised those on the call to "help people" by banishing the term Obamacare and using the program's formal title, the Affordable Care Act, when encouraging friends and family to enroll. The Affordable Care Act, he explained, polls much better than Obamacare.
Cutler, a Harvard professor and former health care advisor to President Obama's campaign, predicted in 2010 that "Obamacare’s cost-control measures would create up to 400,000 jobs each year." So far that prediction has proven to be entirely wrong, as health care costs since the enactment of Obamacare have increased, while hospitals and health care companies around the country have laid off thousands of employees.
Ignoring reports that less that one percent of those who visited Obamacare sign up websites in some states on Tuesday, the first day under the law individuals could sign up for the new health care system, actually enrolled in the Obamacare exchanges, Cutler tried to persuade the conference call audience that the massive glitches on the websites indicated demand for Obamacare was "overwhelming."
One problem with the "overwhelming demand" narrative, however, is that according to revised updates about traffic, it simply isn't true. The Los Angeles Times, for instance, reported on Thursday that "California's health insurance exchange vastly overstated the number of online hits it received Tuesday during the rollout of Obamacare." According to spokespersons for the State of California, "the Covered California website got 645,000 hits during the first day of enrollment, far fewer than the 5 million it reported Tuesday."
OFA call organizers, however, remained undaunted by the nationwide debacle of Obamacare sign up glitches. The next six months, they said, will be critical to the success of Obamacare, because individuals have until March 1, 2014 to enroll in order to avoid penalties for failure to have health insurance. Community organizers around the country, they said, should encourage family and friends to enroll before that deadline.
Organizing for Action is the successor to President Obama's political campaign committee, Obama for America. After President Obama's re-election in November 2012, all the assets of his political campaign, including millions of emails and the technology communication infrastructure, were converted to the Organizing for Action "non-profit organization."
Unlike dozens of local Tea Party groups around the country, many of which have been waiting for more than three years to secure tax-exempt status from the IRS, OFA obtained that status from the IRS within days of its application in January 2013.