News

As critical phase nears, Obama stumps for healthcare

As critical phase nears, Obama stumps for healthcare

Get Covered America buttons are seen during a training session in Chicago, Illinois September 7, 2013 before volunteers canvas a Chicago neighborhood to talk with residents about the Affordable Care Act - also known as Obamacare. Photo: Reuters

By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama visits a local college on Thursday to promote his signature healthcare program as it nears a critical enrollment phase, even as the law faces stiff political opposition and a wary public.

In remarks at Prince George’s Community College in suburban Maryland, Obama will seek to focus attention on the sign-up period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, popularly called “Obamacare.” Starting on Tuesday, Americans who lack insurance will have six months to shop online for health coverage.

The administration’s goal is for the registration period to pull in 7 million uninsured people, including 2.7 million adults aged 18 to 35.

“President Obama will talk about a key cornerstone of what it means to be middle-class in America: having access to affordable healthcare that you can count on,” a White House official said. “The president will cut through all the noise coming out of Washington and speak directly, in plain and honest terms, about what the Affordable Care Act means for consumers.”

The president is also facing a Tuesday deadline for Congress to approve a federal budget and avoid a government shutdown and a mid-October date to raise the nation’s borrowing cap or face a default.

Republicans have sought to make cutbacks to the health law a condition for both steps, but the president has refused to allow Obamacare to be used as a bargaining chip in fiscal disputes.

Republicans, conservatives and business groups have made delaying or scuttling the health program a top priority. They have launched an aggressive advertising program slamming Obamacare as tantamount to socialized medicine, saying it will raise costs for businesses, eliminate thousands of jobs and make already insured people pay more.

The White House and Democrats in Congress say Obamacare will provide millions of Americans with health insurance that they otherwise could not afford, while potentially pushing down healthcare costs.

The administration is rolling out what it hopes will be a forceful public education campaign, drawing on popular figures such as former President Bill Clinton and social media promotions targeted at young adults.

The administration’s efforts coincide with an expected $1 billion marketing initiative from health insurers, hospitals and health systems, as well as public outreach steps by groups ranging from churches, charities and the AARP advocacy group for seniors to the Walgreen and CVS pharmacy chains.

Obama faces an uphill struggle to convince skeptical Americans to use the online tools to sign up for healthcare coverage.

A Real Clear Politics average of polls conducted over three weeks up to Tuesday indicated a 38.7 percent approval rating for Obamacare, versus a 52 percent disapproval rate.

Recent Headlines

6 hours ago in Entertainment

Bill Murray tosses fans’ phones off rooftop

billmurray

The "Ghostbusters" star was unwinding at rooftop restaurant in California on Thursday when he spotted two starstruck fans trying to snap his photo.

7 hours ago in Entertainment

OPENING WEEKEND: ‘Deadpool,’ ‘Zoolander 2’ to battle at the box office

15-overlay-6

Here's a look at some of the films set to open this weekend.

7 hours ago in Entertainment, National

Roses and roaches: Cold-hearted Valentine’s Day ideas

valentines

With the coldest air in more than a decade forecast to grip the United States this Valentine's Day weekend, the holiday dedicated to love is flashing its frigid side.

9 hours ago in Music, Entertainment

Woodstock 50th anniversary celebration in the works

woodstock

Organizers of the original Woodstock festival are trying to get something together to mark the golden anniversary of the event in 2019.

12 hours ago in Music

Eagles of Death Metal schedules first concert since Paris massacre

eaglesofdeathmetal

Eagles of Death Metal, the band on stage during the deadliest of the Islamic State attacks in Paris in November last year, has scheduled its first concert since the massacre.