When it comes to getting the word out to the public about available Affordable Care Act benefits, the Obama administration is looking for partners. Efforts to work with pro sports leagues haven’t gone well, though partnering with celebrities has been a little easier.
But perhaps most importantly, the administration’s alliances with major national retailers has been especially fruitful. In July, for example, CVS Caremark joined the effort to encourage Americans to sign up for health care benefits and learn about new coverage options.
At the time, conservatives like Erick Erickson suggested an informal boycott might be in order, bringing their business to Walgreens. That, of course, was made more difficult by the realization that Walgreens has partnered with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to promote the health law, too.
Maybe anti-healthcare conservatives will start relying exclusively on Rite Aid, instead? Nope.
Rite Aid Corporation announced that it will host licensed insurance agents at nearly 2,000 locations across the country starting Oct. 1 to teach customers about the new insurance exchanges. The agents will meet one-on-one with patients, who will be able to sign up for coverage on the spot, the company said. The pharmacies will also distribute written materials about ObamaCare.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius praised Rite Aid’s plans while visiting a store location in Hoboken, N.J…. Insurance agents participating Rite Aid’s effort will receive specific training related to the Affordable Care Act, according to Rite Aid Chairman John Standley.
This is certainly good news for those who hope to see the health care system work more effectively on behalf of American consumers, but let’s also be clear about the financial motivations. Rite Aid, like its competitors, is making a business decision – the goal is to make money, and helping connect a growing pool of consumers to newly available coverage will improve the bottom line.
What’s wrong with this? Nothing. The public will have more health care security and drugstores will have more customers.
But what about those poor right-wing voices who don’t want to support the “wrong” retailers?
Erickson said in July, for example, that he didn’t want to shop at stores that “support Obamacare.” Fine. I can’t understand his reasoning, but consumers can make their own choices.
But it seems that life is about to get tricky for Republicans who occasionally go to drugstores – market share for Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens is pretty significant. Will the right stop shopping at all of these stores, simply because they’re helping connect customers to benefits the public is entitled to?
For that matter, as we talked about a while back, I’m curious just how far the right is prepared to go with this. Drugstores that want more customers might make conservatives’ do-not-shop-there list, but what about doctors’ offices who see patients who take advantage of Affordable Care Act benefits? Or hospitals? Or private insurers? Or manufacturers of medical equipment?