By Dr. John E. Warren
This week the San Diego Union Tribune Newspaper as well as the Sacramento Bee Newspaper both carried full page color ads as a “Welcome to Health Insurance Made Affordable” campaign was initiated. What is most interesting is that the same ad which appeared as a full page ad in those newspapers were placed in the San Diego Voice & Viewpoint Newspaper and a few African American newspapers as a “half” page ad. This was placed by a New York Ad Agency with another “half” page ad scheduled for the month of November.It appears that millions of dollars have been budgeted for a media campaign which was not intended to include African American newspapers. Radio stations and internet services that no one has ever heard of have been targeted for this campaign. The reason given is that the various agencies responsible for implementing the ACA have relied upon recommendations from advertising agencies that won contracts without any requirement of inclusion of our communities. As a matter of fact, these same agencies do not place business with our publications unless the client insists, for the most part.

We are bringing this issue to the attention of the public because there is no reason that people outside of our communities should be conducting this campaign to the exclusion of our publications. The Black Press has carried our stories, health challenges, and concerns for over 170 some years. There is no way that we should be marginalized by those seeking to benefit from the dollars this program will bring, and who have no concerns about true inclusion.

One of the stories we are hearing is that the contracts have been let and that between now and March of 2014, monies have already been committed. This answer will not due. First of all, any government contract for services or product can be amended with “Change Orders”. If efforts at the local level fail to bring about the inclusion that we seek, then we encourage the public to join us in raising this issue with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary and if necessary with the White House itself. We know that with the level of commitment the President has made to AffordableCares, there is no way he would want to see some of the very people intended to benefit, left out of the “outreach” campaign. We know that some limited dollars have been given to the NAACP as well as the Black Health Association of California; we know that outreach is underway as we saw recently when the Director of New America Media came to San Diego to meet with ethnic press. But why did it take someone from San Francisco and how was it decided that the San Diego Affordable Health Campaign would be kicked off at Ocean Beach, a location that historically does not have a lot of people of color (and African Americans) in particular,here in the City of San Diego on October 1. 2013?

The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint  and all Black Media in the State ofCalifornia as well as the rest of the nation, where this problem is taking place, urges you, the public, to diligently question those who come before you on behalf of the Health Exchanges in your areas and question the marginalizing of Black Media at the very beginning of  such an important national effort.

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