Obama Focuses on Health Care Law Positives, House GOP Attacks

BY Terence Burlij and Katelyn Polantz  July 18, 2013 at 9:35 AM EST

Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., and Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., check out a printed version of the Affordable Care Act at a May press conference on Capitol Hill. Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call.

The Morning Line

More than three years since President Barack Obama signed the health care bill into law, and a year removed from the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the policy overhaul, the fight over the Affordable Care Act rages on.

A day after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to delay Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, the 38th and 39th time the chamber has voted to repeal or modify the law, Mr. Obama will use a White House appearance Thursday to tout the benefits of his signature domestic achievement. The president is expected to highlight a provision that requires insurance companies to spend 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care or improvements to health care delivery, or issue refunds to their customers.

Updated 12 p.m. ET – Watch President Obama’s statement about healthcare:

And minutes after the president began speaking, John Boehner held a dueling press event:

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gave a preview of the president’s remarks on Wednesday, noting that 8.5 million families had received rebates, with an average payment of nearly $100. “This is just one of the many ways the Affordable Care Act is giving consumers a better value for their health care dollar and making our health care system stronger,” Carney said.

The public push comes two weeks after the Obama administration announced that it would delay the enforcement of the employer mandate until 2015, giving businesses with more than 50 employees an extra year to provide health insurance to workers or face penalties as much as $3,000.

Following Wednesday’s votes in the House, Speaker John Boehner released a statement urging the president and Senate Democrats to support the Republican-led effort and delay the mandates for all Americans.

“If the president’s going to give relief to businesses, he ought to give relief from these harsh mandates to families and individuals, too,” the Ohio Republican said. “Yet the White House has signaled the president’s intention to veto these efforts, thus opposing basic fairness and laying bare the hypocrisy of Washington Democrats.”

Politico’s Paige Winfield Cunningham and Kyle Cheney note that the votes were intended to put House Democrats in a tough spot. And moments after the second vote on delaying the individual mandate, the National Republican Campaign Committee sent out a press release blasting the 13 House Democrats who supported the deferment for employers, but not individuals.

Ahead of the votes, Carney called the GOP approach a “futile effort,” and also took aim at the party’s motives.

“There are few things more cynical than the House Republicans who have made it their mission in life to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deny the American people the benefits that they would receive from implementation of the Affordable Care Act, claiming that they are concerned about the delay of the implementation of a relatively small provision within the Affordable Care Act,” Carney said.

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff, meanwhile, go inside the White House plan to sell the health care law, and find that the operation has its roots in the old Obama campaign organization:

The focus on young, minority voters. The heavy reliance on microtargeting. The enthusiasm about nontraditional communications channels. The analytics-rich modeling. It sounds like the Obama campaign. And administration officials don’t shy away from the comparison.

“When I hear the conventional wisdom about Obamacare,” said Jeanne Lambrew, deputy assistant to the president for health policy, “this is the difference between the Karl Roves who put their fingers to the wind and the Nate Silvers of the world who looked at the numbers.”

But the effort will have to go far beyond engineering turnout among key demographics. The administration needs to build more insurance marketplaces than they ever expected, and create an unprecedented IT infrastructure that lets the federal government’s computers seamlessly talk to the (often ancient) systems used in state Medicaid offices. They need to fend off repeal efforts from congressional Republicans — like Wednesday’s vote to delay the individual mandate — and somehow work with red-state bureaucracies that want to see Obamacare fail. And they can’t escape the fact that the law, three years after passage, remains stubbornly unpopular.

Given how deeply divided the American public is on the health care overhaul, both sides are likely to keep up the fight, with the president singing the law’s praises, and House Republicans sure to set up vote number 40.

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Watch the segment here or below:

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TOP TWEETS

Simone Pathe and desk assistant Mallory Sofastaii contributed to this report.

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