President Barack Obama speaks about the Affordable Care Act at the White House in Washington December 3, 2013.
*Stop focusing on the temporary website malfunctions and start looking at Obamacare’s ultimate benefits.
That was President Barack Obama’s message to the nation Tuesday as he launched a three-week public relations blitz intended to generate more participation in his signature health care reforms, reports CNN.
A day after officials declared the previously dysfunctional HealthCare.gov website working smoothly for most users, Obama held a White House event to try to shift the focus of a fiercely partisan public debate to how much help the 2010 Affordable Care Act offers Americans in need.
He noted the botched website launch of October 1 set back implementation of the reforms, and encouraged supporters to help him reintroduce the law to a still skeptical nation.
“Our poor execution in the first couple months on the website clouded the fact that there are a whole bunch of people who stand to benefit,” Obama said. “Now that the website’s working for the vast majority of people, we need to make sure that folks refocus on what’s at stake here.”
The administration hopes the new ability of HealthCare.gov to handle 800,000 users a day or more without major problems signals a major step forward in getting people to sign up for health coverage now required by law under the reforms.
However, officials including Obama, warn that glitches will persist and describe the website as a work in progress.
In another potential problem disclosed Tuesday, a Treasury inspector general audit cited possible security weaknesses against potential fraud by people getting government subsidies under Obamacare to lower their health insurance costs. The Internal Revenue Service, which will enforce compliance with the law’s mandate to obtain health coverage, responded that it continues to develop systems to detect and prevent fraud involving subsidies when recipients file their 2014 tax returns.
Meanwhile, insurance companies say some “back-end” aspects of the HealthCare.gov system continued to malfunction. In particular, insurers cite problems with applications from people who signed up through the website, including erroneous or missing information.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said tech experts were working on the processing problems, offering assurances they would be fixed in time for enrollment starting on January 1, 2014.
“We’re confident that they’ll be able to achieve that,” Carney said.
“We may never satisfy the law’s opponents,” President Obama told an audience of supporters at the White House, including embattled Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose department oversees the reforms.
The President listed specific benefits, such as an end to lifetime caps on coverage and denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Because of Obamacare, parents can keep their children on family policies up to age 26, and people can get free mammograms and other screening.
Now, he said, the 1 million visitors to HealthCare.gov on Monday showed the robust public interest in new health insurance exchanges under the reforms.
“Some have already convinced themselves that the law has failed, regardless of the evidence,” Obama said, prompting applause when he rejected Republican efforts to delay or dismantle the reforms.
“We’re not repealing it as long as I’m President,” he said, adding “We’re not going to walk away from it. If I’ve got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that’s what I’ll do.”
In a blog post on Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that more than 1.46 million people have been added to Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program rolls due to expanded services under the health care reforms.
The Affordable Care Act offered states additional federal funding to offer Medicaid and CHIP coverage to more low-income Americans. So far, 24 states and the District of Columbia have accepted the expansion funding while three others are still deciding and 23 have declined.
More events will occur daily through December 23, the deadline for people to get coverage that will take effect on January 1.