On the first day of open enrollment for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act for 2018, senior administration officials did what you’d expect: The president directed Americans to a government website and encouraged them to sign up, the health secretary conducted media interviews to promote the law, and others coordinated outreach with volunteers and nonprofits across the country helping people pick out the right plans.
Only these officials don’t actually run the government anymore. They’re merely trying to rescue a health-care law the current administration has left for dead.
So instead of Donald Trump, it was Barack Obama using what remains of his bully pulpit to urge people to visit HealthCare.gov on Wednesday. And it was Kathleen Sebelius and other former leaders of the Department of Health and Human Services getting the word out that Obamacare is very much alive and open for business. If there’s a shadow government in the U.S. right now, this is it.
“Everybody’s doing what they did before. We’re just doing it on the other side of the wall,” said Lori Lodes, co-founder of Get America Covered, an advocacy group that former Obama administration officials started last month to promote the six-week open-enrollment period that began on Wednesday. Lodes ran outreach for the exchanges as the head of the office of communications for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Her partner in the effort is Joshua Peck, who served as chief marketing officer for HealthCare.gov.