CBS Concedes ObamaCare May Be 'Tough Sell' Even in Blue Oregon

On Sunday's CBS Evening News, Anna Werner surprisingly acknowledged that ObamaCare may be a "tough sell" even among the left-leaning population of Oregon. Werner's report on a hokey multi-million dollar campaign trying to get young people to sign up for the West Coast state's health care marketplace came three days after CBS reported that the controversial law's approval rating is at an all-time low. [video below the jump]

While the correspondent featured two pro-ObamaCare talking heads, she also played soundbites from a 20-year-old who denounced the law: "As much as you can have an ad campaign that, sort of, inspires people, at the end of the day, the government is in Washington, DC, and has never met you."

Anchor Jeff Glor introduced Werner's report by echoing colleague Norah O'Donnell's slanted explanation about the Affordable Care Act's unpopularity: "Oregon is one of the states trying to clear up widespread confusion about ObamaCare by launching an advertising campaign that is unusual." The CBS journalist continued by playing a clip of the ad that, in her words, "may look a bit like a college film project, but it's actually part of a high stakes $10 million dollar ad campaign."

Werner then played three straight clips from a supporter of the Oregon health care marketplace, who trumpeted the program. Before turning to the chief operating officer of the marketplace, the correspondent did feature two clips from Ben Nanke, who "doesn't like the government forcing him to pay for health insurance, even though he's about to be bumped off his parents' health plan."

Later in the segment, the correspondent pointed out that state-run health care program "may be a tough sell", and played two more soundbites from Nanke, a "self-described libertarian", according to a July 23, 2013 report on The Oregonian's website.

The full transcript of Anna Werner's report from Sunday's CBS Evening News:

JEFF GLOR: On October 1, the marketplace opens for individual policies mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Oregon is one of the states trying to clear up widespread confusion about ObamaCare by launching an advertising campaign that is unusual. Here's Anna Werner.

ANNA WERNER (voice-over): (clip of "Cover Oregon" ad) This commercial may look a bit like a college film project, but it's actually part of a high stakes $10 million dollar ad campaign, designed to get younger residents to buy health insurance from the state's new health care marketplace called Cover Oregon.

The catchy tune definitely got the attention of 26-year-old Lillian Karabaic.

LILLIAN KARABAIC: I even posted a video on my Facebook, and a lot of my friends were like, 'Great! Thanks! I was wondering where I could look up how I could get insurance.'

WERNER: The state aims to sign up many younger people like Karabaic, who don't have insurance. Her two part-time non-profit jobs don't offer benefits.

KARABAIC: I work at places that can't afford to insure me.

WERNER: She went to Cover Oregon's website, and found she'd pay $110 a month.

KARABAIC: Which is actually affordable to me – like, I am totally willing to pay that much for health insurance.

WERNER: Twenty-year-old Ben Nanke saw the ad, too.

BEN NANKE: And I would wake up in the morning and that'd be stuck in my head. I'd be la, la, la, la, la.

WERNER: But he doesn't like the government forcing him to pay for health insurance, even though he's about to be bumped off his parents' health plan.


NANKE: There's a concern there. But, at the same time, I value my independence.

WERNER: For the health care law to work, the state needs to sign up more than 200,000 people, and enough younger, healthier people to balance out the older, sicker residents in the insurance pool.

TRIZ DE LAS ROSA, COVER OREGON CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Everybody's watching. It's challenging to be first. It's challenging to be in the limelight.

WERNER: Cover Oregon chief operating officer Triz de las Rosa.

DE LAS ROSA: Whatever it takes to get them there – so whether it's a woman – you know, strumming a guitar, or whether it's a rap. And hopefully, that message is there.

WERNER: It may be a tough sell.

NANKE: As much as you can have an ad campaign that, sort of, inspires people, at the end of the day, the government is in Washington, DC, and has never met you.

WERNER: Although the ad did inspire Nanke to create his own video and song. (clip of Nanke singing)

WERNER: Those who do want to enroll in Oregon's plan can start doing so October 1. Anna Werner, CBS News.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center