Obama Dismisses GOP’s ACA Attacks, Says Law Will Be Popular
In an interview with the New York Times last week, President Obama dismissed the ongoing criticism and attacks by the GOP against the Affordable Care Act, saying that the law would become more popular among voters once it is fully implemented and "all the nightmare scenarios" have been proven wrong, the Times reports.
Obama slammed Republicans for creating "all kinds of distortions" about the ACA and defended his administration's decision earlier this month to delay the law's employer coverage mandate. He said the delay would give the Department of Treasury and other federal agencies the opportunity to make the requirement "a little bit simpler" for companies to comply with.
Obama also insisted that instituting the delay did not exceed his administration's constitutional authority. "This is the kind of routine modifications or tweaks to a large program that's starting off that in normal times in a normal political atmosphere would draw a yawn from everybody," he said.
"The fact that something like this generates a frenzy on Republicans is consistent with the fact that they've voted to repeal this thing 38 times without offering an alternative that is plausible," he added, challenging lawmakers who question his power to delay the provision to "make the case" (Shear/Calmes, New York Times, 7/27).
Outreach Initiatives Might Not Work at First, Obama Acknowledges
Meanwhile, Obama acknowledged that planned outreach campaigns to promote the ACA and its benefits might have a limited impact on residents' unfavorable opinions about the law. He conceded that "when we're getting outspent four to one and people are just uncertain about what all this means for them, we're going to continue to have some polls" showing the law is unpopular. "The test of this is going to be is it working. And if it works, it will be pretty darn popular," Obama said (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/28).
Obama also acknowledged that there would be "some glitches" during the launch of the insurance exchanges, which will begin open enrollment on Oct. 1. However, he said millions of people would enroll and some with existing coverage would see their insurance premiums decline by "20%, 30% or 50%." He added that he expects the ACA to lower overall health care costs for the federal government (New York Times, 7/27).
Obama, Supporters Hold Meetings To Discuss Strategy
In related news, White House aides and ACA supporters recently convened at the Democratic National Committee's headquarters to discuss strategies to coordinate a new, more aggressive message on the law, Politico's "Politico 44" reports.
According to "Politico 44," ACA supporters want to capitalize on opportunities to neutralize critics' arguments by leveraging a broader message about Republican-led obstructionism and partisanship, and portraying the GOP's efforts to make the law fail as damaging to constituents (Dovere, "Politico 44," Politico, 7/26).
In a similar effort, Obama on Wednesday plans to meet with House and Senate Democrats to debrief lawmakers on expected ACA implementation challenges before Congress adjourns for its August recess, according to several Democratic officials, AP/Modern Healthcare reports (Lederman, AP/Modern Healthcare, 7/27).
Enroll America Goes Door-To-Door for ACA
On Saturday, Enroll America -- a not-for-profit coalition of health reform advocates -- launched its "Get Covered America" campaign by canvassing neighborhoods in several states to raise awareness about the ACA, Kaiser Health News reports. Volunteers will be going door-to-door with a suggested script explaining what Enroll America is and that they are not selling a product or service. Volunteers have been told to avoid engaging in discussions about Medicaid -- which is not being expanded in several states next year under the ACA -- or other political topics (Galewitz, Kaiser Health News, 7/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.