Palling around with organizers

The health care law goes into effect in January, but people can sign up beginning in October. The campaign to inform and enroll people has begun. I thought I’d focus on the health care law education/enrollment effort this summer, if you’d like to follow along. The group I’ll be following locally are national. They will work on the ground in 8 states where there are high numbers of uninsured and GOP-led opposition to the law, but they are just one piece of the effort. I know one of the organizers in NW Ohio so I’ll follow some national news and also tell you what this individual organizer is up to in Toledo and surrounding counties as best I can, my schedule permitting. My pal is a great and extremely hard-working organizer who has won three out of three of the Ohio campaigns he’s been involved with, but he’ll have to work under the insane national din without losing his mind, which I imagine will be the real challenge.

Ohio is a particularly heavy lift for organizers, because the GOP base (Tea Party) are blocking the Medicaid expansion over Governor Kasich’s support of the expansion and the Republican political appointees who head our state agencies have done nothing and will do nothing to educate on or implement the law. That means there’s a lot of uncertainty for people. As you know, “uncertainty” is a horrible state of affairs that must be avoided at all costs when we’re talking about Wall Street and the stock market, but is perfectly acceptable when we’re talking about Republicans deliberately creating chaos that directly impacts ordinary people and their lives

For background on the political state of play from the other side, rather than what might or might not be going on as far as enrollment/education in real life we’ll start nationally, with a look at what Republicans are planning:

Republican lawmakers say they anticipate a flood of questions in the coming months from constituents on the implementation of ObamaCare, which will pose a dilemma for the GOP.
People regularly call their representatives for help with Medicare, Social Security and other government programs. Yet, Republicans believe healthcare reform spells doom for the federal budget, private businesses and the U.S. healthcare system. They’re also enormously frustrated that the law has persevered through two elections and a Supreme Court challenge and believe a botched implementation could help build momentum for the repeal movement.
Some Republicans indicated to The Hill they will not assist constituents in navigating the law and obtaining benefits. Others said they would tell people to call the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“Given that we come from Kansas, it’s much easier to say, ‘Call your former governor,'” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R), referring to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “You say, ‘She’s the one. She’s responsible. She was your governor, elected twice, and now you reelected the president, but he picked her.'” Huelskamp said. “We know how to forward a phone call,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
“I have two dedicated staff who deal with nothing, but ObamaCare and immigration problems,” he added. “I’m sure there will be an uptick in that, but all we can do is pass them back to the Obama administration. The ball’s in their court. They’re responsible for it.”
House leaders have organized a group known as HOAP — the House ObamaCare Accountability Project — to organize a messaging strategy against the law that will trickle down to constituents.
The group has an eye on August recess, when member town halls will inevitably turn to healthcare issues.
Republicans are confident that the government’s most ambitious undertaking in recent memory will collapse under its own weight.
Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who helped draft ObamaCare, called GOP inaction on educating constituents “outrageous.”
“For many families, this may be the first time they have access to real healthcare coverage. This can be a matter of life and death,” said Miller. “This is a real dereliction of duty for Republicans,” he added.

In other words, they have no plan to either inform constituents on the law or actually do anything towards improving health care with their own ideas, but they do have an elaborate plan – complete with catchy title (“HOAP”)- to sabotage the law politically. We should probably anticipate the same incredibly informative and unbiased Town Hall meetings on The Government Take-Over of Health Care this August that we saw in Death Panel Summer, run on a continuous loop on cable.

66 replies
  1. 1
    Yatsuno says:

    They’ll try to defund it, they’ll try to sabotage implementation, they’ll try over and over again to repeal but conveniently forget replacement. Anything to make sure THAT ONE loses and the poors are well and truly fucked.

  2. 2

    The campaign to inform and enroll people has begun.

    And the GOP is doing its best to hamper that effort (predictably!) Saw a hilarious headline on Rush Limbaugh dot com: “Obamacare Health Care Exchanges are Democrat Party Front Group.” Google it if you want to see for yourselves, I won’t link to it. Of course, that headline has been picked up all across the right-wing nutosphere.

  3. 3
    Kay says:


    Right, but it was completely predictable. I don’t even bother with the outrage anymore :)
    It’s exhausting.
    I’m a little curious what the Main Lie Of Attack will be, but only in an abstract sense.

  4. 4
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    What a clusterfuck. Hard to believe this was the best possible outcome.

  5. 5
    Kay says:

    @Southern Beale:

    There was no way to do it without that attack. Anything but complete silence and inactivity would be greeted as politically motivated and secretly malicious. I don’t think it matters at this point. People either act individually on information related to an actual law or they don’t.

  6. 6
    Patricia Kayden says:

    And dragging their feet will do what exactly? Obamacare is the law of the land and has been ruled to be constitutional. Sounds like they’re doing the Southern anti-integration thing otherwise known as massive resistance.

  7. 7
    Yatsuno says:

    @Kay: The really sad part is they will face no consequences for the obstruction. In fact, they will most likely be rewarded becuz hippies & socialism & ZOMG GUBMINT HEALTHCARE IS TEH WORSTEST!!!

  8. 8
    piratedan says:

    TY Kay, look forward to your posts on this. Will be following what takes place here in AZ with the Governor behind it but the state Lege obviously less so. Hoping that the truth will out. Still, would prefer single payer, but at least this will help some people and some is a damn sight better than nobody.

  9. 9
    Kay says:


    I agree. Although, there may be consequences in Ohio. It’s a split in the GOP. Kasich actually wants the expansion, I think there are plenty of GOP legislators who are hearing from providers and want the expansion, but they cannot buck the Tea Party, because in Ohio opposition to Obamacare is the single Tea Party issue.
    Kasich is guessing he has enough support from higher income suburbanites to ignore the Tea Party. The legislators can’t risk that, because they don’t run statewide. We’ll see what happens.

  10. 10
    nineone says:

    @Yatsuno: And they will fail, just like they do with everything these days. Obamacare is here to stay, they did the job too well. On the other hand, the GOP is as dead as the CSA it models itself after. But they have enough money and connections to animate the corpse. They’ll be playing “Weekend at Bernies” for the foreseeable future and then, suddenly, they will go the way of the dodo. Can’t be soon enough for me.

  11. 11
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Talking about health care is so last year. Wouldn’t you rather be getting into arguments about Edward Snowden that resemble a roofie circle?

  12. 12
    Ben says:

    @Hunter Gathers:
    Who will provide the Forget-Me-Nows?

  13. 13
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @Ben: I know a theralyst who might be able to help us out. If he’s not too busy trying to get his rocks off.

  14. 14
    andy says:

    Reading the comments under that Hill story makes me want to start breaking things. Are these people even capable of love or friendship? For people who thump their chests about their “patriotism” they sure as fuck hate their fellow Americans.

    Do you think that filth dare talk that way in real life, or do they cover their heads and run away when they are out-thought and out-argued IRL?

  15. 15
    Ben says:

    Nah, they just shoot you if they’re out-argued in person.

    Regarding those two Congressmen not helping their constituents: in a just and sane world they would lose re-election over it, but given how red those two districts are their constituents will probably accept their explanation and continue blaming the black guy for their problems…

  16. 16
    Ben says:

    @Hunter Gathers:
    I think I know who you’re talking about. Doesn’t he lack an internet connection since he moved into Sudden Valley?

  17. 17


    I don’t think it matters at this point. People either act individually on information related to an actual law or they don’t.

    Agreed. Too many people need this information. Even the Teanut winguts I know are scrambling for info because they actually NEED it. They have businesses. Like it or not, they’re affected by it. You can’t effectively “opt out.” Unlike with the census, if some loon wants to hole up in his cabin with a bunch of guns waiting for the gummint to demand his health insurance card … well, that ain’t gonna happen. Most people live and work in the world.

    I have to wonder if some of the bloom isn’t off the Rush/Teanut rose at this point. Husband works with a bunch of people who pulled all of their 401-k money out of the stock market when Obama was elected the first time — you know, after the crash? They were convinced Obama was going to ruin the economy. Said they’d go back in after there was a Republican president. Guess what, stock market has hit record highs and these idiots have sat out the boom. Woops.

    But I feel sorry for them. They only did it because they bought the propaganda that Rush was selling.

  18. 18
    Kay says:


    Their constituents will never hear about it.

  19. 19
    Kay says:

    @Southern Beale:

    It’s a weird time. When I’m in a good mood it’s interesting, and when I’m not it’s dispiriting. My own sense is people will disengage, because it’s too nuts for most people.

  20. 20
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Seems like any health care law that _wouldn’t_ be able to be sabotaged by Republicans would be… something that Republicans would actually support. Which, first, probably doesn’t exist, and, second, if it did exist, would presumably be far, far worse in terms of policy than what we ended up with.

  21. 21
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @Ben: All you have to do to find him is look for an anustart in a volkswagen. Or at your local method one acting clinic.

  22. 22
    piratedan says:

    @FlipYrWhig: well they certainly are passionate about deep sixing what was an essentially Republican response to single payer, but presidential political dynamics and all that.

  23. 23
    waratah says:

    I talked to my brother in law yesterday here in Texas, a retired state employee and he told me that Obamacare was going to be a bust and would not get off the ground in Texas. I thought about trying to educate him on some facts but it is like talking to a brick wall. I finally gave him my best shot and told him I was tired of the Texas State government that all they can do is pass abortion this and abortion that and when where they going to do something about Texas education and healthcare, and jobs.

  24. 24

    And then there’s this from the memory hole:

    NASHVILLE — Tennessee insurance companies would be prohibited from participating in the state’s federal health care exchange that will provide federally subsidized medical insurance under a bill approved Wednesday by a House subcommittee.

    Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, said he had found “the Achilles’ heel of Obamacare” with his bill (HB476) and, once Tennessee approves it, other states are likely to follow and doom the federal health care program.

    “With this bill, I bring you the opportunity for your children and grandchildren and my children and grandchildren to save billions and billions of dollars of money being borrowed against them by the federal government,” Dennis said.

    The “Achilles’ heel,” he said, is that the federal law still allows states to control insurance companies. Thus, by declaring a state’s insurance companies cannot use the health care exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act, the law can be negated, he said.


    “It’s going to be very frustrating for us not to give Tennesseans the option to purchase on the exchange and have the option of the subsidy,” said David Locke, lobbyist for Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Tennessee.

    I don’t know what happened to that bill … I think it got killed in committee because the AG said it was unconstitutional or some such…. but honestly I’m not sure. But the thing is, Blue Cross Blue Shield is all in on Obamacare. I dunno maybe it’s BS but it seems like our corporate overlords have more sway than the idiots in the tricorn hats and misspelled signs.

  25. 25
    lol says:

    Telling constituents to go pound sand is something that’s cost more than one “safe” Congressman on both sides of the aisle their job.

    White boomers might be fine griping about Obamacare providing socialism for poor and blah people but if *they* have a problem and they call in asking for help, they’re going to demand an answer better than “ask someone else”.

  26. 26
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I know it’s all the fault of Republicans.

  27. 27


    I predict the day will come — not too far in the future — when the Republicans go to great pains to remind everyone that Obamacare was originally their idea in the first place. You know, like how we’re all reminded that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.

  28. 28
    lol says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Also like how the Clinton budget was to their credit… after Clinton and the Dems had already taken the political damaging votes to raise taxes and cut spending.

  29. 29
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Well, maybe you think I’m out on a limb here, but this article about Republican sabotage does indeed suggest some responsibility on the part of Republicans.

  30. 30
    Spike says:

    Republicans believe healthcare reform spells doom for the federal budget, private businesses and the U.S. healthcare system.

    Some Republicans may actually believe these things, but (to borrow a phrase from Hannibal Lecter) that is incidental. What they truly believe is that healthcare reform spells doom for Republicans. Party before country, always and forever, is the rule.

  31. 31
    Betty Cracker says:

    Should be fascinating to see how this shakes out. Governor Bat Boy down here has also done an about-face on the ACA by urging the legislature to accept ACA funding, pissing off the “Tea Party” goons who got him elected in the first place.

    Didn’t amount to a fart in a whirlwind either as the state legislature, which has a wingnut super-majority, rejected the Medicaid $ from the feds that would have expanded coverage to one million uninsured Floridians. Oh, and the FL legislature did this while voting themselves a Cadillac health plan for which they pay a whopping $8 a month. It’s almost like they WANT a tumbrel ride.

  32. 32
    BGinCHI says:

    So perhaps many of their constituents will die or get fed up with having voted for a useless jackass. Either way it produces less Republicans.

    I’m going with “net gain.”

    This may sound callous, but if you are going to your GOP House rep for help with healthcare you’ve already got an evolutionary mountain to climb.

  33. 33
    Citizen_X says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Hard to believe this was the best possible outcome.

    Seriously? Did you just turn into Just Some Rumplestiltskin Motherfucker?

  34. 34
    rikyrah says:

    can’t wait to hear your from the ground reports, Kay.

    that the GOP is committing this kind of heinous acts against fellow citizens surprises me not.

  35. 35
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Nothing else was possible.

  36. 36
    Amir Khalid says:

    What, no Confederations Cup open thread? Where are you, o Randinho?

  37. 37
    gene108 says:

    Want to punch MSM in the nuts (and female equivalent thereof for lady reporters).

    Such an easy story to explain, “GOP Congressman refuse to help constituents with getting insurance through Obamacare”.

    The stories write themselves.

    Constituent 1: Well I tried getting my Congressman to help my son get health insurance. He’s always helped me get problems with my Medicare solved, but he just told my son to call some damn 1-800-number. It’s like he doesn’t care.

    Really, really simple for the MSM to cover this story.

    Either in 2014 or 2016 Obamacare and it’s implementation is going to become a big, big, big, big issue, just like integration was by 1966 and 1968.

    The real issue is going to be, if the coverage of how Republicans are trying to sabotage Obamacare will reflect reality or some arbitrary talking points and/or will the coverage start documenting the people, whose lives have been saved because of Obamacare or will they just print the complaints from ‘x’ special interest (pharma, insurance, etc.) that their profits aren’t maximized.

    I’m not holding my breath hoping for good coverage, but I do hope some of the truth does start to filter through as Democratic politicians, who backed Obamacare start trumpeting the plus points of the law, as they seek re-election.

  38. 38
    dmsilev says:

    @Southern Beale: Might be, though now that they’ve spent the last several years plastering ‘Obama’ all over the ACA that might be a bit more difficult.

  39. 39
    Kay says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    It’s wild that it’s FL, MI and OH with the statehouse/ gov split. R on R battles.

    If it were Dems it’d be DISARRAY! :)

  40. 40
    kc says:

    God, what a bunch of assholes.

  41. 41
    dmsilev says:

    @Betty Cracker: I happen to be in Tallahassee right now. Want me to throw a dead fish into some legislator’s office or something?

  42. 42
    BGinCHI says:

    @dmsilev: If you do, wear a balaclava and some sunscreen. And stay hydrated.

  43. 43
    dmsilev says:

    @BGinCHI: We had baklava for dessert last night. Is that close enough?

  44. 44
    Chyron HR says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    If only we had just given up and started again 15 years later, we would have gotten something better. That’s totally what happened when health care reform failed in the 70s and in the 90s, right?

  45. 45
    Jay C says:


    Want me to throw a dead fish into some legislator’s office or something?

    Why? To make the office smell better??

  46. 46
    MikeJ says:


    The stories write themselves.

    No, the stories are written by people to lazy to go find the story themselves. Find someone to whom this has happened (make it happen if you have to.) Give the story to a reporter along with all the contact info and a juicy quote.

    How do you think republicans get stories in the papers or on TV?

  47. 47
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Even leaving “possible” out of it (in terms of possible to pass, because that just makes everything circular), what health care policy could exist that couldn’t fall prey to Republican sabotage? Because it sounds like you’re aggravated about the one that did pass because it left open too many opportunities to mess with it.

  48. 48
    BGinCHI says:

    @dmsilev: Did you wear it? Then no.

    I had no idea such furrin dessert comestibles were available in the panhandle area.

  49. 49
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @FlipYrWhig: The votes weren’t there for anything better.

  50. 50
    scav says:

    @BGinCHI: Do they go native by being wrapped about ground meat, deep-fried and served with a side of butter?

  51. 51
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Obama is on his ass. Where are these FEMA reeducation camps for teatard morans I keep hearing about? Obviously the round up has been delayed due to the vigilance of Rand Paul, or something.

  52. 52
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Jay C:

    It will take more than one dead fish to properly freshen up Gohmert’s office.

  53. 53
    dmsilev says:

    @BGinCHI: A variety of food is available if one is willing to search for it. For instance, we found a hole-in-the-wall Korean BBQ place which the Korean grad student in our group said was actually fairly good by her standards.

  54. 54
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: As you know, I think that’s true, but, like I said, leave that out of it. If your current complaint about the law is that it allowed too many chances for Republicans to fuck with it, that implies an un-fuck-with-able law could have been articulated. Again, leaving aside whether such a law could have successfully run the gauntlet of Democrats, let alone Republicans, because we know where that line of argument goes–nowhere. It sounds like you have an idea of a health care law that Republicans couldn’t fuck with. Because if you don’t, it seems kind of pointless to criticize this one for the fact that Republicans can fuck with it.

  55. 55
    Chris says:


    They won’t call it Obamacare when claiming credit for it. They’ll call it the ACA, or, more likely, refer to individual sections of it separately.

    Actually, I suspect a big chunk of the public – the “get your government off my Medicare” crowd – will end up convincing itself that Obamacare and the ACA are two entirely different things. And that’s not snark or mockery.

  56. 56
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Chris: They’ll save the epithet “Obamacare” to describe the experience of having black people in line ahead of them at the doctor’s office.

  57. 57
    Elizabelle says:

    You know what you are up against.

    What stops anyone from putting together a reader-friendly summary with Q&As, on the healthcare exchanges, and handing it out outside grocery stores, at bus and rail stops, on street corners, putting the flyers on cars in store parking lots?

    People having health insurance is way more important than learning about used record stores and falafel cafes. We get handouts on that kind of stuff constantly.

    The government can only do so much, and when it’s in the hands of cowards and people for whom self-interest trumps the public good: not that much, and not well at all.

    Why can’t some articulate citizens’ groups take it to the people?

    Americans are way more interested in having good quality health insurance than are their political betters and media hot shots.

    Why leave it to those classes to inform the public?

    Political betters and the bought and paid for media fail us, time and time and time again.

  58. 58
    Kay says:


    Well, that’s what they’re doing. It’s better organized than citizen groups handing out flyers though, and hopefully less hit and miss and more effective.

    You have to pay organizers. It’s a full time job. This is what he does for a living.

  59. 59
    ruemara says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Forget it, Jake, it’s ChinaODStown.

  60. 60
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @FlipYrWhig: The good news is we can easily make ACA better now that it’s in place.

  61. 61
    Kathleen says:

    @MikeJ: I don’t think it’s laziness. All 4 of my local propatainment outlets beat the drum for the Rethugs. I think it’s because they’re pandering to their “desired demographic”, which is the white, affluent-suburb-exurb crowd. For example, one station is having a “town meeting” to discuss how the IRS “targeted” the Tea Party. Ironically, it’s being held at the Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Since I’ve stopped watching them (except when I’m at the gym and the TV is on) I will not have the opportunity to see how they handle ACA rollout, or lack thereof, in Ohio.

  62. 62
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ruemara: @Just Some Fuckhead: I’m glad I made the effort. Totally worth it. Say, why did the Spurs get such bad results from their defense in Game 7? Was it because they were following a credible plan that didn’t work, or was it a deliberate failure undertaken to spite their own fans?

  63. 63
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I don’t pay attention to the NBA. It’s a massive freak show.

  64. 64
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Too bad. You ruined a solid parable-slash-allegory!

  65. 65
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I don’t hate the NBA. I like that it gives people with growth disorders something constructive to do with their lives.

  66. 66
    slightly_peeved says:


    The Republicans are down to not informing people about the law or trying to pass blatantly unconstitutional laws because the ACA was designed to resist this kind of fuckery. The federal administration of the exchanges has helped to protect against a lot of potential attacks from state legislatures.

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