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Enroll America Eyes $100 Million Fundraising Effort

By John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat Editor

January 31, 2013 -- With its budget to implement the health law squeezed tighter and tighter, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services faces an uphill battle to conduct the outreach needed to educate the uninsured about its coverage programs and assist in their enrollment.

But Enroll America, the coalition of private groups that has formed to launch its own enrollment campaign, seems intent on picking up the slack. And it's thinking big—very big—in fundraising for its own effort. It must aim high, says Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack, given the massive amount of work that will be required.

Pollack says there's no precise goal. "We keep on saying it's got to be in the significant tens of millions of dollars, and hopefully we reach another digit,'' he said. "For the kind of effort that's undertaken, it's not as large as it could be.

"Many of the groups we reached out to were not sure how to proceed because the Supreme Court had not ruled, and then you had the elections, and so it was unclear whether the Affordable Care Act would move forward. So now Enroll America is undertaking a crash fundraising effort."

About two dozen groups already have contributed, but now with the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) intact, Enroll America wants to expand that donor base. "Clearly we want the insurers, we want the hospitals, we want the different groups who frankly will be doing well by doing good." The effort also will target philanthropic organizations.

As the staff of Enroll America expands, one of its first new hires is Chris Wyant, who ran President Barack Obama's campaign in Ohio, said Pollack. "He is now putting together a crash process of hiring." It's expected that he'll oversee the hiring of "a few hundred people."

In addition to this cadre of full-time staffers, "like a campaign, they will have volunteers working as well, so it's not just paid staff." Pollack said the volunteers likely will include people who volunteered for the Obama reelection campaign. "But it will also include others who just care about health care and have been doing work with respect to health care and the poor."

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