Obama Fighting ‘One More Campaign’ for Obamacare

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Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, at an Organizing for Action grassroots supporter event in Washington, November 4, 2013.

He has his army. If only the website would work.

President Barack Obama addressed a group of 200 health care activists Monday at an event sponsored by the grassroots group he founded after his 2012 campaign. His message: They must now work to implement the Affordable Care Act. A month after the health care exchanges opened, Obama is facing criticism for a web of complex technical problems that have gripped HealthCare.gov, jeopardizing his ability to hit the enrollment targets required to make the exchanges solvent.

“Let’s face it, a lot of us didn’t realize that passing the law was the easy part,” Obama quipped at the Organizing for Action gathering. He devoted a large part of his address to deflecting from the struggles facing the website, highlighting the parts of the law that are already benefiting Americans, including free preventive care and an end to considering pre-existing conditions when granting insurance.

As for the website, “I’m taking responsibility to make sure it gets fixed, and it will be fixed,” Obama said.

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Obama also addressed criticism that over his promise that people who were happy with their insurance could keep it under the law, as thousands of Americans in the individual marketplace with plans that don’t meet the law’s standards are receiving cancellation notices. “What we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed,” he said.

David Plouffe, former Obama senior adviser and now an adviser to Organizing for Action, also spoke to the group. “It’s an inexcusable error and these things happen,” Plouffe said. “So long as the website is completed and works error-free and delay-free by the end of this month, and we think it will, we’re going to have plenty of time to do what we need to do.” The state and federal-run insurance marketplaces must maintain a careful ratio of Americans to keep rates affordable, with the young and healthy balancing our older, sicker customers. If the young and healthy don’t enroll because of the technical difficulties, it could threaten the financial stability of those markets.

Before Obama and Plouffe spoke, a group of top administration allies, including representatives from Americans United for Change, Planned Parenthood and the Service Employees International Union, which are working to make the health care law a success, also spoke to the group.

Organizing for Action’s executive director Jon Carson referred to its members as Obama “army,” spreading news of the law to those eligible for its benefits. Last week the group released a video encouraging Obama supporters to make sure their family members sign up for the exchanges.

Noting that he was first elected five years ago to the day, Obama said that while he’s done with campaigns for office, “I’ve got one more campaign in me: the campaign to make sure that this law works for every single person.”

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