White House advances positive messages to defend health law, urges Americans to enroll

The goal is to boost enrollment figures and reframe the debate with Republican opponents.

The Washington Post: Obama Embarks On New Health-Care Push After Web Site Fixes, Urges Americans To Sign Up
President Obama on Tuesday embarked on the difficult task of persuading Americans to reconsider his landmark health-care law after its botched launch, imploring people to sign up as part of a major push to publicize the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans immediately lampooned the effort -; coming more than three years after passage of the law and two months after its disastrous rollout -; and conservative activists vowed to wage a counterassault publicizing the law's downsides (Goldfarb and Eilperin, 12/3).

Politico: W.H. Kicks Off Turnaround Campaign On Obamacare
President Barack Obama, confident that HealthCare.gov is finally working, attempted Tuesday to shift the nation's attention toward Affordable Care Act benefits that he says were overshadowed by website problems at a critical time for the law. The president's brief speech marked the start of the White House's latest messaging push, a three-week campaign that aims to boost anemic enrollment figures and put Republicans on the defensive after Obamacare's embarrassing rollout (Millman and Epstein, 12/4).

Politico: White House Turns To Bully Pulpit For ACA Turnaround
The White House launched three weeks of Affordable Care Act promotion in what it promises will be one of Obama's most extensive, consistent messaging efforts in office. The first event was low-key -; a short, quiet, decidedly non-rally-like appearance in a White House complex auditorium (Dovere and Allen, 12/3).

The New York Times: Obama To Defend Health Law As Economic Benefit
President Obama leaves the White House on Wednesday for one of the capital's most struggling neighborhoods to talk about the economy, not simply to divert attention from his troubled Affordable Care Act but to explain how that law, for all of its flaws, fits into his vision for Americans' economic security and upward mobility (Calmes, 12/4).

The New York Times: Obama Urges Focus On Health Care Law's Benefits
In brief remarks at the White House, the president began what aides described as a weekslong effort to move on from the negative stories of the botched HealthCare.gov rollout. Mr. Obama again conceded the problems but said critics who contended that the law had failed were wrong (Shear, 12/3).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Declares Health Care Law Is Working
Seeking to regroup from his health care law's disastrous rollout, President Barack Obama on Tuesday insisted that the sweeping overhaul is working and warned Republican critics that he would fight any efforts to strip away its protections. "We're not repealing it as long as I'm president," Obama said during a health care event at the White House. "If I have to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that's what I'll do" (12/3).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Acts To Defend Obamacare And Democrats From GOP Attacks
Two turbulent months into the launch of the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplace, President Obama moved to defend the law against Republican attacks Tuesday as the administration tried to deflect attention from the federal website's botched rollout. The White House's renewed effort to tout the law has two aims: to encourage Americans to sign up for coverage and to reassure nervous Democratic lawmakers and other allies who have watched Obama's so-far unsuccessful efforts to contain the political damage (Hennessey and Parsons, 12/3).

Bloomberg: Obama Seeks To Salvage Health Law Support With New Focus
President Barack Obama, seeking to halt the erosion in public support for his health-care law, is using the power of his office to try to change the conversation.  After struggling for two months to fix the federal online insurance exchange at the core of the law, Obama yesterday began what aides say will be a three-week campaign to use his bully pulpit to regain momentum for his signature domestic initiative (Dorning, 12/4).

Reuters: Obama Urges Americans Not Be Discouraged By Rocky Healthcare Rollout
President Barack Obama urged Americans not to be discouraged by the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov on Tuesday and vowed to fix whatever glitches remain as he sought to restore confidence in his leadership. Obama used a speech at the White House to address criticisms of the law and accuse his Republican opponents of attempting to gain politically from the problems surrounding his central domestic policy achievement (12/3).

NBC News: Obama On Affordable Care Act: 'We're Not Repealing It As Long As I'm President'
President Barack Obama said his signature health care reform law is going nowhere as long as he's in office, and he'll spend the remainder of his presidency fighting to make it work if necessary. "Do not let the initial problems with the website discourage you, because it's working better now, and it's just going to keep on working better over time," Obama said at an event at the White House intended to promote the health law and its benefits. "If I've got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that's what I'll do," he defiantly added later (O'Brien, 12/3).

The Washington Post: For Obama, Enrolling Under The Health-Care Law Was Inevitable
Unlike members of Congress, President Obama is not obligated to sign up for a plan under his signature health-care law. But from a political perspective, the president has little choice but to opt for either the federal or state health insurance exchange by the end of the year. The White House had announced in March 2010 that the president would enroll in an exchange in response to a political gambit by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa), who proposed an amendment to the law that would have required Obama to buy a plan through the exchanges (Eilperin, 12/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Fight Pivots Toward Midterms
The fight between the political parties to shape public opinion of the 2010 health-care law is entering a new phase that looks beyond the problems of the enrollment website, amid signs that the law's rocky rollout has damaged Democratic prospects for the next election. President Barack Obama, who spent weeks shouldering the blame for the troubled rollout, said Tuesday the HealthCare.gov website "is working well for the vast majority of users'' and used the moment to try to hit the reset button on the administration's effort to persuade people to sign up for insurance (Nelson, O'Connor and Hughes, 12/3).

And the GOP's counter-offensive -

McClatchy: GOP House Leaders Rip Obamacare, Pledge 'Patient-Driven' System
Republicans tried to get out in front on health care Tuesday, hours before President Barack Obama was to launch a new defense of the program at the White House. House of Representatives Republican leaders ripped the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Caif., urged a "patient-driven health care system, not a government-driven health care system." So, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was asked at a news conference, what does that mean? (Lightman, 12/3). 

Politico: New Obamacare Weapon For GOP: Doctors
Get ready for the next line of attack from the GOP on Obamacare: good luck keeping your doctor. As other controversies surrounding the law begin to fade, House Republicans are increasingly focused on President Barack Obama's pledge that "if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor." They're hoping to replicate the uproar over canceled insurance plans, which has caused problems for millions of consumers nationwide and political headaches for Democrats (Kim and Haberkorn, 12/3).

In addition, the New York Times examines who in the administration might be held accountable for the troubles so far -

The New York Times: Considering Which Head Or Heads May Roll For A Troubled Website Rollout
White House officials, asserting that the HealthCare.gov website is largely fixed, are under mounting pressure from Democrats and close allies to hold senior-level people accountable for the botched rollout of President Obama's signature domestic achievement and to determine who should be fired. For weeks, the president and his aides have said they are not interested in conducting a witch hunt in the middle of the effort to rescue the website. But in the West Wing, the desire for an explanation about how an administration that prides itself on competence bungled so badly remains an urgent mission (Shear, 12/3).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.



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