Selling Obamacare: Three-Week Run

Photograph by Paul Sancya/AP Photo

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks at the Community Health and Social Services Center in Detroit on Nov. 15, 2013 .

When all else fails, call in the salesman.

The White House, insistent that its failing HealthCare.Gov is finally on the mend, is rolling out its salesman-in-chief for the Affordable Care Act, that law formerly known around the West Wing as Obamacare.

At the White House today, President Barack Obama will be touting the benefits of his signature 2010 law intended to offer health insurance to millions of Americans lacking it and make coverage better for all who have it. It’s the start of a three-week campaign, as Bloomberg’s Mike Dorning reports.

“The president’s campaign to build public confidence in the law is set to run through Dec. 23, according to an administration official who asked not to be identified discussing internal planning,” he reports. “The White House also plans consumer outreach to encourage people to sign up for insurance before Dec. 23, the last day that people who enroll are guaranteed to have medical insurance by Jan. 1.”

“The initiative will feature daily events, each designed to highlight a different benefit of the law, including preventive care and reduced growth in health-care costs, the official said.”

After the administration announced that it had met a self-imposed deadline for making the website that is the portal to the law’s new health-care exchanges ready for “the vast majority” of those trying to use it,  more than 800,000 visitors logged in on Monday, according to officials.

The public-facing website, however, hasn’t been the only problem.

On the back-end of the works, “the website’s software initially prevented Social Security numbers from being included in data sent to insurers, blocking complete enrollments in health plans, Bloomberg’s Alex Wayne reports.

A fix announced yesterday will end 80 percent of those errors, according to Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“We believe that we have fixed the largest percentage of issues that were causing concerns” with the federal website’s communication with insurers, Bataille said yesterday on a conference call. Still, “we do know that things are not perfect with the site.”

Perfect or not, now comes the sales job.

And what a job that is:

On average, in a series of recent polls, public opinion about the president’s health-care law has run 57 percent negative — and just 39 percent positive. It was as low as 31 percent approval in a mid-November CBS News poll — in the depth of the worst publicity about the program’s problems and the president’s broken promises about people being able to keep their own insurance.

It could be that public opinion has nowhere to go but up — sort of the like the president’s own standing in the polls at the moment: Averaging 40 percent approval and 55.6 percent disapproval. He has hit the low point of his presidency in several of the most recent public polls.

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