Obama Kicks Off Healthcare PR Effort, Touting Benefits and Healthcare.gov
President Obama kicked off a three-week campaign to restore the image of his signature healthcare law on Tuesday. Each day leading up to Dec. 23 — the deadline to register for Jan. 1 coverage — the White House will be promoting one aspect of the new law to encourage Americans to subscribe by the deadline and to reassure skeptical allies that Obamacare is back on track. On Tuesday, Obama brought in stories of Americans helped by the law to bring attention back from broken promises.
"Today, the website is working well for the vast majority of users," Obama said. "More problems may pop up, as they always do when you're launching something new, and when they do we'll fix those too."
The PR effort didn't come a moment too soon, as polls show that support for the law has been dropping even among groups typically sympathetic to it and the president. Though the Healthcare.gov site got over 1 million visitors on Monday, the White House has not released numbers on how many of them actually signed up for a new plan under the exchange.
As we reported, the original launch effort for the national healthcare exchange, which is used in the 36 states that refused to set up their own, was a flop:
Healthcare.gov’s failed Oct. 1 launch — when the website crashed after failing a test drive with just a few hundred users shortly before the unveiling — was just the first in a series of gaffes surrounding the healthcare rollout. That embarrassment was amplified by the time it took to fix the website, and the reveal that Obama’s ”If you like your healthcare, you can keep it” line was a lie in certain cases.
Republicans have used the failed start to bolster their campaign to repeal the law. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that a "campaign-style" event won't fix the law's major problems.
But on Tuesday, it seemed like the tide had changed. "I need you to spread the word about the law, about its benefits, about its protections, about how folks can sign up," the president said. "We've learned not to make wild promises about how perfectly smooth it's going to be at all times."
On Wednesday, the administration is set to focus on how the ACA requires that preventable care be offered without copays.
You can read one Bustle writer's entertaining account of trying to use Healthcare.gov to sign up for Obamacare here.