As Obamacare rollout nears, president checks in with state officials

WASHINGTON Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:22pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement about the violence in Egypt while at his rental vacation home on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard in Chilmark August 15, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement about the violence in Egypt while at his rental vacation home on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard in Chilmark August 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

Related Topics

U.S. Secret Service provide security for President Barack Obama in Pensacola, Florida, June 15, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young

Protecting the President

The Secret Service detail surrounding President Obama.  Slideshow 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama sought a progress report from state officials on Wednesday on the rollout of his signature health care law, stepping up his profile on the issue as the launch of a key provision of the law nears on October 1.

Obama spoke by videoconference with the officials responsible for setting up new online health insurance exchanges that are at the heart of the program. These markets will offer private coverage at federally subsidized rates to individuals and families with low-to-moderate incomes.

With the launch date less than five weeks away, the administration faces a daunting challenge in getting the programs up and running in all 50 states in the face of steady opposition from Republicans, who have sought to hold up or cut funding for parts or all of the law.

"The president recognized that the diligence, creativity, and commitment of those working in the states to set up the marketplaces ... have been especially important given the limitations on time, resources, staff, and in some states, support from across the political spectrum," the White House said.

The White House said Obama "heard about the progress they have made in setting up the new marketplaces" but did not provide details.

The reforms, formally called the Affordable Care Act but also known as Obamacare, constitute the most sweeping new healthcare laws since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, and the program faces fierce political opposition. Many Republicans believe the law is a disaster that will raise, rather than lower the costs of health care.

The administration has recently delayed an important segment of the roll-out, raising doubts about implementation at a time of intensifying attack from Republicans and other foes.

As the enrollment period nears, the president is likely to devote increasing amounts of time and attention to promoting his plan. The administration wants 2.7 million younger people between the ages of 18 and 35 who are currently uninsured to sign up for health coverage.

The exchanges are expected to provide subsidized health coverage for 7 million people in 2014 and 22 million by 2016.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that healthcare costs, as measured by premiums for the coverage employers provide, have been rising more slowly since the law was passed than before. He also said that reports showing a jump in hiring at small businesses contradict claims the health law is a job killer.

"Some might even say that this is evidence that the Affordable Care Act is having a positive impact on small businesses, their bottom line, and, of course, their employees," Earnest said at a briefing.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (9)
neiman1 wrote:
Nevada AFL-CIO condemns Obamacare

Aug 21, 2013 8:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
McBob08 wrote:
6 states that have already rolled out the Affordable Care Act have reported savings in insurance costs averaging 20%. Despite the Republican lies, Obamacare works. It would just work better with the Single Payer Option.

Aug 21, 2013 9:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
KeepHopeAlive wrote:
I live in CA and only people who have never used public transport in another State(e.g., NY subway or DC Metro) think BART is GREAT. Similarly, only those who have never had great health care think the ACA is a good solution. I have always had great health care coverage and cringe at the day when it turns into government controlled care similar to Namibia, South Africa, Canada etc…What most people don’t want to admit is that there will always be people who can afford better, private care and they will do whatever they can to continue to access such care. Perfect example is all Gov’t employees who don’t have to be subjected to ACA–I’m sure they’re all celebrating. EVERYONE should be suspicious of this HUGE exemption. If it’s so great, then why doesn’t the President and his family use it???

Aug 21, 2013 9:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.