In an effort to sign up as many consumers as possible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare), the Obama administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to partner with churches and other faith-based groups, even publishing sample church bulletin inserts, flyers, and scripts for announcements, as well as “talking points.” These materials are part of the “Second Sunday & Faith Weekend of Action Toolkit,” which is available on the website of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
From the beginning, HHS has sought to develop partnerships with faith-based organizations to promote the Obamacare. This “toolkit” has been available since 2013. However, the details of these partnerships have largely escaped the attention of the national media. The Second Sunday & Faith Weekend of Action program encourages churches to use the second Sunday of each month during open enrollment to hold informational meetings and sign-up events.
The suggested announcement includes insertion points for the name of the church promoting the event:
The materials also include two full pages of “talking points,” which end with an admonition to churches that “[y]ou are trusted messengers in this community. We hope you share this information with those around you so they can be connected with the care they need.”
Non-profits such as Community Health Connectors have also brought togeather churches and faith-based organizations with government officials for information regarding the ACA, recently even hosting an “off the record” conference call with First Lady Michelle Obama “to discuss how the Affordable Care Act is impacting the lives of your congregation members.”
HHS also offers to make officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) available to speak at church events. The CMS “2nd Sunday HIM [Health Insurance Marketplace] Enrollment for Faith and Community Event” form asks for contact information, desired topics and dates, and an audience profile, including if any “other CMS, HHS, Congressional Members or any other VIP officials expected to attend.”
In at least one case, a marketplace even invoked scripture as part of the enrollment push. In March 2014, D.C. HealthLink, the insurance marketplace for the nation’s capital assigned a theme to their Weekend of Action, “The Body is a Temple and it Must Be Insured,” drawing on I Corinthians 6:19, which says that “your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.”
According to a recent blog post on the HHS website, more than 5,500 faith leaders have “promoted health insurance enrollment within their communities through efforts like the Second Sunday program.” The deadline for open enrollment for 2015 coverage is Sunday, February 15.
– The Trumpet –