Six Hundred Alabama College Students Recruited to Push Obamacare

“By casting the enrollment drive in a charitable, rather than political, light, organizers have been able to broaden their appeal to attract students...”

The Obamacare promotional organization Bama Covered has enlisted the help of 600 college student volunteers to help enroll low-income people in Obamacare, a student enlistment effort made successful by “casting the enrollment drive in a charitable, rather than political, light.”

Created by two twenty-somethings, Rhodes scholar Josh Carpenter and Harvard grad Daniel Liss, the organization was deliberately  planted in a red state with the intention of training students and sending them out to community events and locales, particularly in low-income areas. From The New York Times:

The all-volunteer organization, known as Bama Covered, is believed to be the only group doing enrollment that is made up solely of college students. The effort has the feel of student activism from an earlier time, like the push to register blacks to vote during the civil-rights era. By the end of February, Alabama reached 84 percent of its projected enrollment goal, ahead of the national figure of 75 percent.

But some, including The New York Times, see difficulties ahead, particularly from Republican Governor Robert Bentley, who writer Michael Winerup portrays as overseeing a state that voted against Obama along racial lines:

The governor, Robert Bentley, is a Republican in a Republican-dominated state where only 10 percent of the white vote went for Mr. Obama in 2008. In January, Mr. Bentley spent a good part of his State of the State address criticizing the new federal health law.

Winerup emphasizes that Bama Covered's success in enlisting student volunteers is in part due to the organizers “casting the enrollment drive in a charitable, rather than political, light,” and in this way managing to attract more socially conservative students.

The founders of Bama Covered hope that if their student-based program succeeds, more like them will be replicated throughout the country.