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ACA gets AOK from CVS

Associated Press

The Obama administration is looking for allies when it comes to implementing the Affordable Care Act, and yesterday, it picked up a pretty important one. It's not a sports league or a celebrity, but it is a powerhouse retailer.

CVS Caremark is joining the effort to encourage Americans to sign up for Obamacare insurance programs, company executives announced Thursday.

CVS officials told POLITICO that they're planning to use pharmacies at their 7,400 North American stores as a gateway for the uninsured to learn about new coverage options -- especially subsidized insurance coverage available to low-income people on state-based insurance exchanges.

Helena Foulkes, chief health care strategy and marketing officer at CVS Caremark, told Politico, "Half of people who are eligible for a subsidy don't know they're eligible." And with that in mind, CVS pharmacies intend to help customers navigate the available benefits and enroll eligible people in exchanges.

When it comes to raising public awareness, this is an important step for the national system. When it comes to politics, it's a reminder of just how strange some political players can be -- Fox News' Erick Erickson said yesterday CVS Caremark's "support" for "Obamacare" means he intends to shop at Walgreens.

Except, when Erickson probably doesn't know is that Walgreens recently announced a partnership with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to promote the health law, too.

In fact, I'll be eager to see how the right deals with this trouble in the coming months -- because their hysterical opposition to the law may make their lives a little ... tricky.

Private businesses like CVS and Walgreen want to make money, of course, and see a growing pool of customers who'll be eligible for new benefits. To that end, they want to help those customers, probably because it'll help their bottom line.

For folks like Erickson, the proper response is to launch an informal boycott, which is certainly his right. But exactly how far will far-right activists go in this endeavor? Drugstores that want more customers are apparently going to make conservatives' do-not-shop-there list, but what about doctors' offices who see patients who take advantage of Affordable Care Act benefits? Or hospitals? Or private insurers? Or manufacturers of medical equipment?

For Erickson and those who share his odd worldview, how far are they prepared to retreat from the nation's health care marketplace because their contempt for the new federal law has spiraled well past the point of reason?