In a bizarre twist, a conservative group has taken one of America's most beloved icons and turned him into nightmare fodder, all in an attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
Two videos released yesterday feature Uncle Sam as a doctor -- and not the kind you'd ever want making house calls.
"The Exam" features a young woman who is about to get a gynecological exam when a maniacal-looking Uncle Sam pops up between her legs, speculum in hand.
The other, called "The Glove," features the same bizarre Uncle Sam figure snapping on a latex glove to give a young, pants-less man a rectal exam.
The tagline for both ads is "Don't let government play doctor."
The ads, which are running on YouTube and will soon be available on Hulu and Pandora, are part of a $750,000 campaign by Generation Opportunity, a Virginia-based group aiming to convince young people to opt out of the Affordable Care Act. There are no plans to run the spots on TV, though they've received a fair share of nightly news coverage.
The ads have created media buzz and sparked condemnation from liberal groups.
"Generation Opportunity's new online ad … not only defiles our American mascot but disturbingly compared the ACA to sexual assault," said NARAL president Ilyse Hogue in a statement.
But David Pasch, spokesman for Generation Opportunity, says his organization is pleased with the attention it's received.
"In less than 24 hours we got a million hits on YouTube," he said.
Under the Affordable Care Act, those who do not sign up for health insurance by April 1, 2014 will be required to pay $95 or one percent of household income through the Internal Revenue Service. The fine will increase after that.
Generation Opportunity President Evan Feinberg said for most young people it's better to pay the fine. "We think the best decision a young person can make is to opt out of the exchange," Mr. Feinberg said.
He also said Obamacare allows the federal government to access more personal information "in a massive NSA-like hub" and interfere with an individual's health-care decisions.
Liberal groups say the campaign is little more than a scare-tactic funded by conservative groups, including one backed by the Koch Brothers.
Mr. Feinberg declined to reveal the sources of his group's funding.
"Like many non-profits, we respect the privacy of all of our donors," he said.
The anti-Obamacare effort will include rallies and pizza giveaways on college campuses. It comes as the clock is ticking toward Oct. 1, the day all states are required to open new insurance exchanges aimed at helping the uninsured and underinsured buy coverage.
The Generation Opportunity effort strikes at one of the most vulnerable aspects of the Affordable Care Act and comes as the Obama administration gears up its efforts to sign up young people.
Insurers need young, healthy people to sign up to offset the cost of Obamacare's requirement that insurance companies drop bans on pre-existing conditions and eliminating caps on the amount of money they pay on a claim.
In general, young people are the least likely Americans to purchase health insurance. The recession's punch to recent college graduates is expected to exacerbate that trend, unless Obamacare supporters can convince them that the law's subsidies for low-income workers will help them afford coverage.