Part of the Olympic package this year will be Obamacare. Between the ski slopes and ice rinks at Sochi, advertisements for the healthcare law will run. The media markets most likely to see ads are areas where there are high rates of uninsured individuals, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (or, HHS). The ads will also target a younger audience. CNN reports HHS spokesperson Joanne Peters said in a statement the administration is “ramping up education and outreach efforts to drive enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace as part of a sustained, aggressive campaign for the duration of open enrollment.”
“HHS is using a mix of grassroots activities and stakeholder engagement to raise awareness, as well as targeted television, radio, and digital advertising with an emphasis on reaching young and healthy audiences in particular,” Peters stated. Dallas, Houston, Miami, and Tampa have been areas of focus for the administration in the past; and officials from the administration have been sent to these cities to promote the law.
Politico has confirmed the ads will run in North Carolina, where Democratic Senator Kay Hagan faces a tough re-election battle. Hagan supported Obamacare, which Republicans believe will be a disadvantage for her political future. National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Brad Dayspring said that Sochi advertising for healthcare “just reinforces the reality that Kay Hagan repeatedly broke promises she made about Obamacare to North Carolina voters and will not be able to hide from the unpopular law.”
A Hagan spokesperson, Sadie Weiner, says the elections will ultimately come down to more than a healthcare referendum. “This election isn’t about the Affordable Care Act. It will be about Kay’s record of standing up for North Carolinians contrasted with her special-interest backed opponents who gutted public education, want to voucherize Medicare, privatize Social Security, and slash long-term unemployment benefits.”
Also on Tuesday, the Republican National Committee (or, RNC) announced it would be airing radio advertisements against Democrats who told constituents if they liked their healthcare plans, they could keep them. Hagan is among the targeted Democrats, as well as Senators Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).
In the statement, RNC Chair Reince Priebus explained why the Senators, and Representatives Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Nick Rahall (D-W. Va.) were being singled out.
“These Democrats repeated the lie that people could keep their healthcare plans under ObamaCare. Canceled plans and increased premiums prove they cannot be trusted to keep their promises,” Priebus said. “We’re asking voters to join us in making their New Year’s resolutions the same as ours: holding Democrats running in 2014 accountable for their dishonesty.”
HHS did not disclose how much had been spent on advertising during the Olympics. In September, Ad Age reported that NBC Universal had sold $800 million in advertising, and expected the number would continue to grow. ”As of today, we see $800 million, which is a winter-games record for us, surpassing Torino,” Seth Winter, exec VP-sales and marketing for NBC Sports Group said.