Republicans are pushing college students to opt out of Obamacare, and they’re doing it by invading that most sacred of college institutions: the tailgate party.
Generation Opportunity, a Virginia-based group that is part of a coalition of right-leaning organizations with financial ties to billionaire businessmen and political activists Charles and David Koch, will launch a six-figure campaign aimed at convincing young people to “opt-out” of the Obamacare exchanges. Later this month, the group will begin a tour of 20 college campuses, where they plan to set up shop alongside pro-Obamacare activists such as Enroll America that are working to sign people up for the insurance exchanges.
Generation Opportunity intends to host events at college tailgate parties festivals [sic], where “brand ambassadors” (read: hot young people) will pass out beer koozies that read “opt out,” pizza and literature about the health care law. Some events may have impromptu dance parties with DJ’s, complete with games of cornhole and competitions for prizes, organizers said.
Their message: You don’t have to sign up for Obamacare. And they want students to sign a pledge not get [sic] insurance plans set up by the law.
Generation Opportunity is correct in that the students don’t have to sign up for Obamacare; uninsured individuals can choose not to enroll and instead face a fine of $95 per individual, up to a family total of $285 or 1 percent of the family’s income in 2014. However, that fine increases over the next two years to $695 per individual, up to a family total of $2,085 or 2.5 percent of family income by 2016. On the other hand, insurance subsidies will be available to eligible individuals making up to four times the federal poverty level, an estimated 25.7 million people that will include the 51.8 percent of off-campus students who live below the poverty line. (I’ll back that up with a link as soon as I can, but right now the Census Bureau site seems to be down for some reason…) So when Generation Opportunity President Evan Feinberg tells students that “[they] might have to pay a fine, but that’s going to be cheaper for [them] and better for [them],” it’s an assertion he might not be able to back up. Nor does he address the financial ramifications of going uninsured in the face of the alcohol-related incidents, car accidents, sports injuries, stress-related illnesses, and dorms full of communicable diseases common to college life.
While Feinberg says his intent is not to kill the law, he says, “If young people do opt out en masse, it will put the law in a bind for sure. If it means they have to repeal it because it doesn’t work and that ends up crippling the law, well fine. Then they have to make some changes or repeal the law to make it work.” In other words: College students should endanger their own health in order to kill this law.
Generation Opportunity’s campaign has already launched in the form of two seriously creepy and potentially triggery ads (not kidding here) featuring a weird, Burger King king-looking Uncle Sam character preparing to perform a pelvic exam and a prostate exam that admonish us “Don’t let government play doctor,” and I beg you not to click those links because I’m going to be seeing creepy-ass Uncle Sam in my nightmares. The full campaign is expected to run in the neighborhood of $750,000 and will target areas where Enroll America has a presence.