President Obama championed some early successes of the Affordable Care Act Friday with a speech as he encouraged uninsured Americans to enroll in the statewide insurance exchanges due to be unveiled in the coming months.
The president highlighted the California exchange, where officials have reported lower than expected premiums for the exchange set to be opened this fall.
“You can listen to a bunch of political talk out there, negative ads and fear-mongering geared toward the next election, or alternatively you can look at what’s happening in states like California right now, he said. “If you don’t have health insurance, and you’re trying to get it through the individual market and it’s too expensive or it’s too restricted, you now have these marketplaces where they’re going to offer you a better deal because of choice and competition.”
He specifically encouraged the 6 million uninsured Californians to join their state’s program, including millions of Hispanic Americans. Administration officials told NBC News they are focusing on exchanges in California, Texas, and Florida, where they expect large numbers of uninsured Americans may to use the exchanges to get coverage.
The Department of Health and Human Services plans to work with community leaders to help drive Hispanic Americans to enroll in the exchanges. In California that includes a public/private partnership with the California Endowment and Spanish-language media like Univision and Telemundo joining together to promote the law to the Hispanic community.
The president also chastised House Republicans for having voted to repeal the law 37 times now. ”Let’s stop re-fighting the old battles and start working with people like the leaders who are on stage here today,” he said.
The speech comes as Democrats have decided to embrace the much-maligned law in the run up to the 2014 election, and Republicans seek to double down on their opposition, with a new messaging campaign they’re calling the House Obamacare Accountability Project.
But at least some of the Republicans who’ve opposed the health reform law have been caught trying to benefit from it as well. A new report from The Nation revealed that Sens. Rob Portman and John Cornyn, among other lawmakers, wrote letters asking for grant money from the Affordable Care Act, despite bashing the law publicly.
But public support for the law is still tepid at best. Nearly half of all respondents in a recent NBC News poll said the law was a “bad idea,” while only 37% said it was a “good idea.”