White House Steps Up Push to Sell Obamacare

WASHINGTON (Washington Post) -

The White House is dramatically expanding its efforts to sell the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, hiring additional staffers, formulating a public-relations strategy and reaching out to key lawmakers as the new health-insurance system prepares to launch in coming months.

The administration’s push comes as Republican lawmakers announced they will hold hearings on the administration’s decision to delay the law’s requirement that large employers provide health-care coverage for workers. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also vowed to hold a House vote this month to delay key elements of the law.

The White House and its congressional allies, for their part, are attempting to minimize problems as the law reaches a critical stage. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough spends at least a couple of hours a day working on implementation, regularly reaching out to congressional Democrats to see what questions they need answered to spread the word about the law back home.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) whose House committee will hold a July 18 hearing on several aspects of the law, said Obamacare is “simply not ready” to take full effect in October, when open enrollment begins in states across the country. In addition to delaying the employer mandate, the administration also issued rules Friday delaying until 2015 a requirement that new insurance marketplaces verify consumers’ income and health-insurance status.

“If Americans are taking a careful look at it, they will see the administration is beginning to admit the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has some serious problems,” Murphy said, adding that the administration “is focusing on the advertising on this” rather than substantive issues.