Health care

Groups wage grassroots battle ahead of ObamaCare launch

Mike Tobin reports from Columbus, Ohio


On a recent Friday evening, David Fladeboe showed up to a high school football game in Waukesha, Wis. But he had no interest in the two teams playing. 

With a tablet in hand, he was there to get signatures on an anti-ObamaCare petition. 

"This bill is obviously not ready for prime-time. We wanna see what we can do to get it delayed and ultimately repealed," Fladeboe said. 

Fladeboe is one of many foot soldiers for the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. He was on the front lines of the ground game during the presidential campaign, and now he's back doing almost the same thing. The difference is that he is campaigning to defeat legislation as it is being implemented. 

Back in Washington, the politically risky push by Tea Party-aligned Republicans to de-fund ObamaCare is being met with derision by Democrats and some in their own party. But the ground game behind the push to derail the law itself has been building for months. 

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Conservatives will say this is an information campaign, but there is a target: The Internet-based health care exchanges which go into effect Oct. 1. 

These are intended to be the markets where uninsured can shop around for coverage. Opponents of the Affordable Care Act think if they can discourage people -- young and healthy people, in particular -- from enrolling in the exchanges, there will not be enough money in the pool to pay for the sick and the elderly. ObamaCare would then, the theory goes, deflate upon implementation. 

"Ultimately, this is going to collapse under its own weight because people are going to realize how bad a deal it is," Fladeboe said. 

ObamaCare supporters are also working the ground game. One such supporter, Dr. Ron Pollack, said his goal is to cut through the politics of health care. "We've had a pretty robust political discussion but we've not yet had an adequate discussion that helps people decide for themselves," said Pollack. 

"There are many millions of people who can gain access to affordable high quality health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, but many of them don't know that yet." 

To make it feel even more like a campaign, liberals and conservatives are battling it out on the airwaves. The group Organizing for Action (which used to be Obama For America) is running an ad that shows a restaurant owner along with the narration: "Next year, she can expand her small business thanks to tax credits." 

Americans for Prosperity is running ads that raise questions about whether families will be able to keep their preferred doctor. One shows a mother who asks rhetorically, "What am I getting in exchange for a higher premium and a smaller paycheck?" 

The advocacy groups have also identified their battlegrounds. Families USA is focusing on four targets: Cook County, Ill.; Los Angeles County, Calif.; Harris County, Texas; and Miami-Dade County, Fla. This is based on their estimate of the greatest number of uninsured people. 

Americans for Prosperity is targeting: Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Arkansas and Nevada. They also estimated the number of uninsured but calculated the greatest potential for political impact in the next election as well, choosing several battleground states.

Michael Tobin joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Chicago-based correspondent.