From January until the end of March, the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services, which runs the HealthCare.gov site and administers
the Affordable Care Act, will have spent $52 million on paid media,
officials said. Conservative opponents of the law have concentrated
their spending on ads focusing on Democratic candidates and sowing
doubts about the viability of the law.
Russian troops were rolling through Crimea when Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff and a foreign policy expert, was deployed on a mission to do media outreach. But the focus of Mr. McDonough’s calls to local talk radio stations was not geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe, it was health care.
Mr. McDonough chatted with Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps, hosts of a popular sports talk radio program on WKRK-FM (92.3) in Cleveland, about the coming N.F.L. draft, basketball at the White House and his days playing college football in Minnesota. Mr. McDonough then pitched a new website featuring games, videos and superstar athletes explaining the benefits of health insurance: a sports-themed portal to HealthCare.gov.
“We’ve all seen it happen,” said Mr. McDonough, promoting the portal, GamePlan4Me, to the hosts of “Baskin & Phelps” and their mostly young, mostly male audience. “Somebody’s playing hoops, and they blow out a knee or something. And then all of a sudden, if you don’t have health care, you’re going to bankrupt yourself.”