Reporting Pat Kessler
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is launching a massive awareness campaign to get people to sign up for its new insurance program. Millions of dollars are being used for the ads, which feature two of the state’s biggest celebrities: Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
The $9 million ad campaign is supposed to get 1.3 million Minnesotans in the tent to sign up for health care. But critics call it false advertising.
“The biggest travesty here is that $9 million of taxpayer money has been spent coming up with Paul Bunyan and Babe,” GOP Rep. Peggy Scott said.
Scott says MNsure’s marketing studies, costing millions, are missing MNsure’s target audience: healthy young people.
“How many young healthy people even know who Paul Bunyon and Babe are?” Scott said.
The new TV ads feature the iconic duo in a number of injury-riddled mishaps for which they’ll need medical care and insurance. But Scott says the campaign never mentions what Minnesotans are really signing up for: Obamacare.
“It’s going to be more expensive. You’re going to have fewer choices and there’s not going to be much privacy involved here,” Scott said.
In Bemidji, where statues of the beloved Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox reside, there’s more controversy. Bemidji mayor Rita Albrecht told the Bemidji Pioneer the ads are “offensive” and the ads damage Bunyan’s image.
Meanwhile, MNsure executives prepare the swamp the state with hundreds of ads, urging people to sign up.
“I think what we are trying to do is reach as many Minnesotans as we can with accurate and positive messages,” executive April Todd-Malmov said.
More than a million people are expected to sign up for MNsure online and Republican critics don’t expect it to go smoothly. In fact, instead of Paul and Babe, Scott is suggesting another Minnesota legend might be a better fit.
“I’m thinking go back to Bob Dylan. He’s a folklore guy, right? And he has a song called ‘Everything Is Broken.’ I think that might be more appropriate,” Scott said.
There are hundreds of thousands of people without insurance in Minnesota. On Oct. 1, they’ll be able to sign up on line to shop for different kinds of insurance plans competing for customers.
On Jan. 1, 2014, all Americans will be required to have health insurance.
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