With government officials charged with rolling out Obamacare bracing for delays and facing continued skepticism from the American people, healthcare activists are hoping to convince the talk show mogul to promote the healthcare law — a move they assert could greatly influence Obamacare’s promotion, The Hill reported.
“She has one of the most powerful brands in America,” Allen Adamson, managing director at brand consulting firm Landor Associates, told The Hill. “…If the White House isn’t calling her, they should be.”
Though Winfrey is a close friend and supporter of the Obamas, she has not given any indication she will sign on to promote the law. A White House official declined to comment on Winfrey’s involvement specifically, but did hail “a wide variety of organizations and stakeholders” that are working to promote Obamacare as the Oct. 1 launch date for the marketplaces looms.
Thus far, the White House has enlisted the help of entertainment figures like Jennifer Hudson and Bon Jovi to promote the law, but convincing Oprah to sign on could be a game changer, marketing experts say.
“Oprah transcends that in a serious way. She is not somebody who simply influences how people think. She influences what people do, and when it comes to enrollment, that’s what matters,” Ethan Rome, executive director of the consumer group Health Care for America Now, told The Hill.
For healthcare officials, Oprah’s influence could help sway the more than 7 million Americans the White House needs to enroll in healthcare marketplaces this year. Additionally, more than 2.5 million 18- to 29-year olds need to sign up for exchanges in order to keep the cost of premiums down.
Dubbed “the Oprah effect,” much of what Winfrey sets in her sights on grows wildly in popularity. Her book club members have purchased more than 55 million books since its inception in 1996, more than 16 million viewers tuned into the “Oprah Winfrey Show’s” finale and “O Magazine” circulates to more than 2.3 million readers.
Additionally, following her endorsement of President Obama in 2008, Winfrey helped deliver more than 1 million votes for the then-Presidendial nominee, research from the University of Maryland suggests.
“Someone like Oprah has a lot of credibility and can reach a large constituency of supporters,” Kathleen Stoll, director of health policy at Families USA. “We welcome the participation of celebrities in this effort.”
Though Oprah’s endorsement of Obamacare could lead to more Americans enrolling in the marketplaces, it could have an adverse effect on the star’s popularity.
Winfrey may have helped deliver votes for the President in 2008, but “The Oprah Winfrey Show’s” ratings suffered following her endorsement and participation on the campaign as it alienated viewers supporting either the Republican candidate or Hillary Clinton. She supported the President in 2012 but refrained from actively campaigning for him.
And the public isn’t exactly on board with Obamacare, either. According to a new poll released by Rasmussen on Monday, 53 percent of voters view the Affordable Care Act unfavorably.
Still, Winfrey hasn’t shied away from politics this year. She hosted a fundraiser for Newark Mayor and New Jersey senate hopeful Cory Booker, and made headlines following comments about slain 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Winfrey is also headed to the White House to receive the 2013 Medal of Freedom, the White House announced last week.
And despite the public’s hesitation about the Affordable Care Act, Winfrey’s persuasive power is unparalleled, making her an invaluable asset to the White House.
“But Oprah has a deep connection with her followers,” Adamson said. “Women view her as objective and not in somebody’s pocket. So her backing could be a powerful tool.”