President to push positives of Affordable Care Act in new effort

BY Christina Bellantoni  December 3, 2013 at 9:19 AM EDT

Seeking to move past the health care law’s website woes, President Barack Obama, seen here Monday speaking about AIDS, will refocus the public’s attention on broader benefits of the sweeping law. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Consider it a sort of Affordable Care Act advent calendar, just in time for the holidays.

President Barack Obama will spend the next three weeks evangelizing the health care law in a carefully coordinated campaign with Democrats and political allies joining in the effort.

Mr. Obama will begin highlighting his signature domestic accomplishment at the White House at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, joined by people who support the law.

An administration official previewed the new push, saying the president will detail “the benefits that have already kicked in for millions of middle class families who have insurance and the importance of continuing to help as many hardworking Americans as possible enroll for their new health care options through the Marketplaces.”

The president will talk about recent improvements to HealthCare.gov and “focus attention back on the core principles of reform that have been lost in the attention on the website, and invoke the successes that are already flowing from the law and what it means for the millions of Americans who are already directly benefitting. And he will make clear what the cost of repealing the law would be for these middle class families who have already begun to rely on these benefits,” the official said. The Morning LineAt the same time, the Democratic National Committee is going live with a new website to remind voters that Republicans have sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Carrie Budoff Brown and Jonathan Allen had the early details of the “three-week drive to refocus the public on the law’s benefits,” as the president returns to what they describe as “sales mode.”

They write:

The White House will take the lead in emphasizing a different benefit each day until the Dec. 23 enrollment deadline for Jan. 1 coverage. The daily message will be amplified through press events and social media by Democratic members of Congress, the Democratic National Committee, congressional campaign committees and advocacy organizations, officials said.

The fresh push is an attempt to get back to the game plan that Democrats wanted to pursue before the faulty website forced them into full-time damage control. The president needs to rebuild confidence in the law among the public and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, who have threatened to roll back aspects of Obamacare if the insurance marketplace didn’t improve quickly — and wants to focus attention on what would be lost if it were repealed.

Lori Lodes, senior vice president of the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund, told Politico: “We are able to hit reset on the conversation … We have to make sure people understand how the law will benefit them.”

The coordination has included daily communications calls with House Democratic leadership aides and the White House will start daily calls with Senate Democratic leadership aides, Politico reported.

The Associated Press’ Julie Pace notes that the under-siege president also will “take aim at Republicans, arguing that the GOP is trying to strip away those benefits without presenting an alternative.”

But it won’t be easy for the president to keep focused on the positive, with problems continuing to plague the sign-up process and those same Republicans eager to keep after Mr. Obama’s administration.

Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin reported for the Washington Post that some Americans who thought they signed up for new insurance online “might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month” thanks to computer glitches affecting roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1.

Talking Points Memo, meanwhile, rounds up the best and worst state exchange websites, two months into the rollout.

The NewsHour on Monday discussed the improvements to HealthCare.gov and the problems remaining for insurers trying to access enrollment data. Gwen Ifill spoke with Mary Agnes Carey of Kaiser Health News and John Engates of RackSpace. Watch the segment here or below:

LINE ITEMS

  • A budget deal may be emerging. Politico’s Manu Raju and Jake Sherman report that fees to curb the sequester cuts seem like a point of agreement between the chairs Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray.
  • The House Tuesday is likely to extend a ban on plastic guns and approve a measure that would require the Transportation Security Administration “to spend all unclaimed money collected from airport security checkpoints on lounges for members of the military and their families.”
  • MSNBC’s Chris Matthews will interview the president Thursday as part of his Hardball College Tour.
  • Ju Hong, the student who interrupted Mr. Obama at his speech last week about immigration, penned a letter to the president asking him to stop deportations.
  • Mr. Obama talked about boosting investments in AIDS research at the White House on World Aids Day.
  • Time’s Jay Newton-Small reports that Senate Republicans will use targeted attacks rather than all-out war in response to the Democrats’ rule change on the filibuster.
  • The 2014 midterm elections also include a number of high-profile governors’ races in states that the president won twice but are run by Republican governors. Democrats are looking to unseat Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who spoke with Jeffrey Brown last week.
  • Elizabeth Warren is hitting the campaign trail.
  • D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced that he plans to seek a second term despite the federal probe into his 2010 campaign.
  • Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is in London and will give a speech Tuesday titled “American Leadership and the Future of the Transatlantic Alliance.”
  • With one month left in session, Congress has quite a bit on its “to-do list.” The Washington Post’s Paul Kane highlighted the tasks ahead for the 113th Congress. But his colleague Ed O’Keefe points out the House and Senate will only be in session at the same time for five days this month.
  • The National Republican Congressional Committee pulled a t-shirt from its website that read “Happy Holidays is What Liberals Say.”
  • Roll Call previews Tuesday’s lighting of the Capitol Christmas Tree.
  • Perez Hilton meets Alexander Hamilton? Why of course this exists.
  • The Pope was once a bouncer.
  • Star Wars joined Instagram with a Darth Vader selfie, natch.
  • Welcome to Twitter, @NormOrnstein.
  • Political Editor Christina Bellantoni will be leaving the NewsHour to return to Roll Call as Editor-in-Chief. Her last day is Dec. 18 and she’ll begin the new role Jan. 20.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

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Aileen Graef, Bridget Bowman and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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