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Obamacare Olympic Ad Purchase Questioned - John Dunn

Updated: Thursday, January 9 2014, 10:43 PM CST

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A plan to buy TV ads during the Winter Olympics has the Obama administration facing criticism. The ads would promote Obamacare, but some say it's wasting your money. The Obama administration says it is buying TV ads to encourage young people to sign up for health coverage.

For two weeks the Winter Olympics will dominate the sports world, and mixed in during commercial breaks, you may see ads for Obamacare. "This is another example of the Obama administration finding new ways to waste taxpayer money," says Michael Sullivan, Deputy Executive Director of the Tennessee Republican Party.

The administration is trying to enroll the uninsured, particularly young people, before the March 31 deadline. The Department of Health and Human Services will not say how much money it's spending, but various reports say the administration has a $61 million dollar PR contract to promote the Affordable Care Act. "When it comes to spending money, the Obama administration is reckless, and they're not too concerned about how to save taxpayer dollars," says Sullivan.

While state republicans criticize the decision, democrats say it makes sense. "It's absolutely the right thing to do to educate people about the opportunities, and for people to buy their own health insurance," says Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron.

The program's success is dependent on signing up young healthy americans, but a report from Nielsen, which tracks TV ratings, says "Olympic ratings are clearly highest among older viewers, and ratings among the 18-49 group are 20% lower than the national average."

"The audience they're targeting doesn't watch the Winter Olympics. They might as well be selling Axe body spray during 60 minutes," says Michael Sullivan.

Roy Herron says republican critics should be careful with the criticism. "The same Republican politicians who are objecting to TV ads reaching out to young people, to help young people, are the same ones spending millions and hundreds of millions of dollars on ads to get re-elected," says Herron.

As the Olympics approach, we'll soon know if new ads translate into more enrollments.

We can't say for sure if those Obamacare ads will be seen here in Middle Tennessee. The administration is targeting areas with the highest rates of uninsured people.

For news updates follow John Dunn on twitter @WZTVJohnDunn

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Obamacare Olympic Ad Purchase Questioned - John Dunn

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The Obama administration achieved a major victory in late June when the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold the nationwide subsidies for the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment for 2015 is closed but people with special circumstances can still get covered on healthcare.gov.

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