(Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama plans to highlight the 2010 health care laws benefits at a White House event today, kicking off a three-week campaign to regain support for a program marred by a troubled implementation.
Obama will emphasize the importance of using the newly- repaired federal online insurance exchange to enroll Americans in health plans, the White House says. The site has been plagued by technical problems since it went live on Oct. 1, keeping tens of thousands of Americans from signing up for medical coverage.
The move comes in response to Republican lawmakers criticism of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act over the healthcare.gov website troubles and the cancellation notices sent to hundreds of thousands of current policy holders as a result of the law.
Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican and Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Monday that his panel will be monitoring the laws rollout for potential fraud and scams.
The still-struggling website speaks to the administrations incompetence in implementing this law and raises serious concerns moving forward, Upton said in a statement.
The botched start meant the government achieved only a fraction of the 800,000-enrollee target it set through November. The administrations prediction is 7 million sign-ups for the first year. Open enrollment ends March 31.
The presidents campaign to build public confidence in the law is set to run through Dec. 23, according to an administration official who asked not to be identified discussing internal planning.
The White House also plans consumer outreach to encourage people to sign up for insurance before Dec. 23, the last day that people who enroll are guaranteed to have medical insurance by Jan. 1.
The initiative will feature daily events, each designed to highlight a different benefit of the law, including preventive care and reduced growth in health care costs, the official says.
The federal website was hobbled by software errors and overwhelmed by higher-than-anticipated consumer demand after it opened. About 8.6 million people visited the site in the first week, running into long waits that kept many from registering to check out insurance options.
Republicans, who were unanimous in their opposition to the law when it passed in 2010 through a Congress then controlled by Democrats, have sought to turn the troubled rollout into political advantage. In addition to hearings, they have released documents showing administration officials knew of flaws in the main insurance exchange website before it opened Oct. 1.
Obama said on Sunday that the websites problems had largely been repaired. Monday the site had more than 800,000 visitors, says Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. She doesnt say how many selected policies.
The website appeared to be handling its stated new capacity of 50,000 simultaneous visitors, primarily through use of a queuing system that controls overflow. At the same time, an error rate of 0.9% per page, a decrease from 6% in October, still means users may encounter problems in clicking through multiple pages to enroll in a health plan.
The federal website serves 36 states, including Texas, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania, while 14 states, including New York and California, run their own.
The state sites for the most part have not encountered the technical problems of healthcare.gov.
Obama has apologized to the thousands of Americans who lost their medical insurance plans as a result of his health-care law, despite his repeated pledge that people who like their coverage would be able to keep it when the law took effect. On Nov. 14, he promised a one-year reprieve to people facing the loss of coverage, a move that prompted objections from insurers saying that doing so would boost costs.
The administration is weighing whether to boost payments to insurers to offset the added cost of letting people keep medical coverage that otherwise would have been canceled next year under the law, according to a notice posted on the Federal Register Monday.
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