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The US government has offered help to people who missed the December 24 deadline to enroll for the ObamaCare.
The government said anyone who failed to finish their application through a dedicated website – HealthCare.gov – could still obtain a policy for the new year.
On Monday, it extended the original deadline by a day amid high demand and technical issues.
HealthCare.gov has been plagued by glitches since its October 1st rollout.
The problems with President Barack Obama’s signature bill have hit his popularity ratings hard.
The website was set up under a 2010 healthcare law that seeks to cover millions of Americans who do not have health insurance.
The US government has offered help to people who missed the December 24 deadline to enroll for the ObamaCare
“Sometimes despite your best efforts, you might have run into delays caused by heavy traffic to HealthCare.gov, maintenance periods, or other issues with our systems that prevented you from finishing the process on time,” a message on the federal marketplace website said just hours before the Tuesday midnight deadline.
“If this happened to you, don’t worry – we still may be able to help you get covered as soon as 1 January.”
The website also provided helpline contact numbers and told applicants to “tell our customer service representative that you’ve been trying to enroll and explain why you couldn’t finish by the deadline.
“They can tell you what you can do to finish your enrolment and still get covered for 2014.”
Two states have extended the deadline for coverage in the new year even further, to December 27th in Maryland and December 31st in Minnesota.
While the website has been upgraded over the course of the past two months, it has still experienced downtime in the past few weeks.
Americans may still enroll in private insurance plans through the website after December 24th, but they will not be guaranteed coverage at the start of the new year.
A more important deadline for the Obama administration is March 31st 2014, when enrolment in the programme ends for the year.
Those who do not have coverage through their employer, government-run health programmes or through the federal or state-run websites by then will have to pay a tax penalty.
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President Barack Obama has signed up for health insurance coverage under ObamaCare.
A White House representative said Monday that the president enrolled in a health plan through the Washington, D.C. insurance marketplace over the weekend.
Barack Obama chose one of the cheapest plan – bronze plan – which covers 60% of medical costs.
Barack Obama chose bronze plan which covers 60 percent of medical costs
“The act of the President signing up for insurance coverage through the DC exchange is symbolic since the President’s health care will continue to be provided by the military,” the aide said.
Barack Obama will pay premiums for the plan, though, the aide said. The insurance would cover only the president, not his wife or children, and the premium will be less than $400 per month.
All presidents and their immediate families get coverage through the military. As Commander-in-Chief, any president has a personal physician and he and his family get full care at the White House Medical Unit and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
The deadline to overhaul the website of ObamaCare reform law has passed but it is unclear if all the glitches have been fixed.
Technicians worked around the clock to meet the midnight deadline but the site was due to go offline for maintenance early on Sunday.
The test will probably come as people return from Thanksgiving holidays.
Problems with the website have led to a drop in President Barack Obama’s approval ratings.
White House officials said the HealthCare.gov site was working well on Saturday after overnight hardware upgrades to boost its capacity.
Software fixes to improve speed and reduce errors were planned for overnight Saturday into Sunday morning.
An update on the website’s progress is due to be released later on Sunday by Jeff Zients, the site’s chief troubleshooter.
The deadline to overhaul the website of ObamaCare reform law has passed but it is unclear if all the glitches have been fixed
HealthCare.gov is a key element of Barack Obama’s flagship 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – also known as ObamaCare – which aims to provide affordable health insurance to the estimated 15% of US citizens who lack it.
But since its October 1st launch, the site has been plagued by errors, outages and slow speeds.
Despite the setbacks, Barack Obama has described his healthcare reform law as a legacy to be proud of.
In an interview with ABC News, Barack Obama said he still believed his Affordable Care Act would make good on his manifesto promise to deliver affordable health care to Americans.
ObamaCare has been strongly criticized by Republican party politicians and many private health providers, who say it is too expensive and an unwarranted intrusion into the affairs of private businesses and individuals.
Their opposition intensified after the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov in October.
The website, which services 36 states, signed up just 27,000 people in the first month while the 14 states that run their own websites enrolled 79,000.
The total of around 106,000 was far off the administration’s estimate that nearly 500,000 people would enroll within the first month.
The White House promised a “smooth experience” for the “vast majority” of website users by the end of November.
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The White House has announced another delay to its healthcare law, this time to online medical insurance for small businesses.
The marketplace website allowing employers to buy health coverage for their workers will be put off by one year until November 2014.
Ongoing problems with Healthcare.gov, beset by glitches since its October 1st launch, were blamed for the delay.
It is the latest setback for the law commonly known as ObamaCare.
Enrolment for small businesses was originally meant to start in October, until the administration delayed it by a month. On Wednesday it pushed that deadline back again, by a full year.
Administration officials told reporters in a conference call that employers who want to buy healthcare plans for their workers would need to go through an insurance company or agent, rather than through a government website.
Officials said this would allow employers to buy coverage while avoiding slowing down technical repairs on the federal website, which has been plagued by errors.
The White House has promised the website will be fixed by the end of November.
The marketplace website allowing employers to buy health coverage for their workers will be put off by one year until November 2014
Government health spokeswoman Julie Bataille said on Wednesday the portal was now handling 25,000 users at the same time.
She said it was on track to meet its goal of handling double that number by Saturday.
“We have a lot of work left to do in the next few days,” Julie Bataille added.
But she cautioned that some malfunctions may persist on the website beyond the end of this week.
“There will be times after November 30th when Healthcare.gov does not function properly,” said Julie Bataille.
Republicans, who have launched countless legal and political challenges to the law since its passage in 2010, seized on the latest postponement.
“With each passing day, it’s clear how much worse ObamaCare is than a website full of glitches,” Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus said in a statement.
The online portal was established under the health law to enable consumers who do not get medical cover through their employers or via government benefits to shop for coverage.
But technical problems – including slow page loads and outages – have resulted in much lower-than-anticipated initial enrolment rates.
Considered the largest overhaul of the US healthcare system since the 1960s, it aims to extend health insurance coverage to the estimated 15% of the US population who lack it.
Support for ObamaCare, whose official name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, has recently wobbled even within the president’s own party.
Some congressional Democrats are said to be worried that the mounting negative headlines could hurt their 2014 re-election chances.
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President Barack Obama has announced a one-year reprieve for millions of Americans facing cancellation of their health insurance policies under his embattled healthcare law.
The president said insurers could extend individually purchased plans that would otherwise be cancelled.
While pushing for the law’s passage, Barack Obama vowed people with individual plans who liked their policies could keep them.
“We fumbled the rollout on this healthcare law,” he said.
In recent weeks insurance companies have sent letters to their customers announcing the cancellation of coverage that does not meet the Affordable Care Act’s strict new requirements for policies sold on the individual private market.
The law included a provision that would allow individual plans that did not meet the standard to continue as long as they were created before 2010. But many firms did not maintain these plans.
While Barack Obama said on Thursday that those people could keep their old plans, he encouraged them to shop around for better, more cost-effective coverage.
Under the change announced on Thursday, insurance companies that extend those plans will be required to inform customers of which medical care they do not cover, and inform them that other insurance options offering more coverage may be available.
Barack Obama also said he expected to have to “win back” credibility and the “confidence” of the American people in the wake of ongoing issues with the health law, his signature domestic policy initiative.
Barack Obama has announced a one-year reprieve for millions of Americans facing cancellation of their health insurance policies under his embattled healthcare law
“I completely get how upsetting this can be for many Americans,” Barack Obama said, acknowledging that he had made assurances that anyone who wanted to keep their plans would be able to.
“To those Americans: I hear you loud and clear.”
It is unclear how many will be affected by the fix. White House officials told Reuters that state insurance commissioners would have to allow it to go ahead and it would be up to insurance firms to renew the plans.
Ahead of Barack Obama’s announcement, Republican House Speaker John Boehner insisted it was time to “scrap this law once and for all”.
“You can’t fix this government-run health care plan called ObamaCare,” John Boehner said of the law, which relies mostly on health insurance plans offered by private, for-profit companies.
“It’s just not fixable.”
At the White House briefing room, Barack Obama acknowledged the flaws with the law’s rollout had put a “burden” on his fellow Democrats.
The American public has remained divided over the law since its 2010 passage and subsequent rollout. Republicans, who were unanimously opposed to the law and have tried to undermine it at every turn, have sought political advantage in every reported problem with the law.
The law, known to both sides as “ObamaCare”, is certain to be an issue in the 2014 mid-term elections.
Before Barack Obama announced the change, the White House had said it was against proposals that would allow insurers to continue selling medical coverage that did not offer the level of benefits required under the law.
“The old individual market was not working well,” Barack Obama said on Thursday.
“And it’s important that we don’t pretend that somehow that’s a place worth going back to.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is still struggling to fix ongoing glitches with the healthcare.gov website, established by the law to enable consumers who do not get health insurance from their employers or from the government to shop for private plans.
Among other issues, the site has been plagued by long wait times to sign up for an insurance plan and serious flaws on the back end where customers’ data are processed and sent to insurance companies.
The problems have proven so severe that fewer than 27,000 people in 36 US states have successfully enrolled in healthcare programs on the site since it launched on October 1st.
In comparison, about 79,000 enrolled using websites run by states.
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Only 27,000 Americans enrolled for health insurance through its troubled federal website in the first month, the Obama administration has said.
About 106,000 people were insured in total, most of them through the state-run websites.
The administration originally estimated nearly half a million people would sign up in the first month.
Democrats reportedly expressed frustration about the botched rollout in a White House meeting on Wednesday.
The federal website, used in 36 US states, has been bedeviled by glitches since its October 1st launch.
The administration has pledged that the portal will be “running smoothly” for a “vast majority” of users by the end of November.
Wednesday’s figures from the US health department also showed nearly 400,000 Americans had qualified for Medicaid, a government medical programme for the poor that was expanded by the healthcare law.
Only 27,000 Americans enrolled for health insurance through its troubled federal website in the first month
About 40% of people in this category were said to have come through the federal website.
Nearly one million people, meanwhile, had managed to check via the website if they were eligible for government subsidies towards the insurance, but had not selected a plan, according to the administration.
The White House’s chief technology officer, Todd Park, told a congressional oversight hearing on Wednesday that the system’s response times have improved.
But there is a long way to go – health insurance enrolment thus far is a tiny fraction of the seven million people the Obama administration has projected will sign up by the end of March.
The difficult launch of the website has provided Republicans with plenty of ammunition against the law, which they tried to delay or defund through a partial government shutdown last month.
The White House is also facing harsh criticism over insurance companies’ mass cancellation of policies that do not meet the law’s strict requirements, even though Democratic President Barack Obama had pledged otherwise.
Adding to his political headache, six Senate Democrats are sponsoring a bill that would allow Americans to hold on to their existing coverage. The proposal is entitled Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise.
It is along the lines of a House Republican-sponsored bill, to be voted on Friday, which Democratic leaders have rejected as just another conservative attempt to repeal the law.
Democrats in the House of Representatives met White House officials on Wednesday, reportedly to express their concern that the issue could lead to a backlash in next year’s midterm elections.
An unnamed senior House Democratic aide told US media that legislators had pressed President Barack Obama to announce a fix for the cancelled policies.
The White House is expected to host a visit from Democratic senators on Thursday.
Former President Bill Clinton, a fellow Democrat, on Tuesday urged Barack Obama to find a way to let Americans keep their coverage under the law. Republicans seized on his comments.
Last week, Barack Obama apologized to those whose policies had been cancelled, saying “we didn’t do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law”.
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Former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin stopped by the Today show on Monday, where she promptly got into with host Matt Lauer about healthcare.
Matt Lauer asked if President Barack Obama’s apology for the Affordable Care Act’s rollout woes was sufficient. Sarah Palin scoffed, asking “what apology?” and saying that the Healthcare.gov’s serious flaws were the least of America’s worries.
“This broken website, I think, is symbolic of a broken administration,” Sarah Palin said.
“Take over one-sixth of our economy and the socialized medicine that’s being crammed down our throat – that’s what’s broken.”
Matt Lauer then asked Sarah Palin what the Tea Party proposed as a solution to America’s health care problems, if ObamaCare was not a workable one, and that’s where things got a little dicey.
Sarah Palin attempted to repeat her talking points instead.
Sarah Palin stopped by the Today show on Monday, where she promptly got into with host Matt Lauer about healthcare
“It’s not just the independent grassroots Tea Party movement saying this, it’s many in the Republican party and many Democrats, too…”
“But where’s the plan from the Tea Party?” Matt Lauer asked again.
”… especially Democrats in red states that are running for re-election who are… ” Sarah Palin continued.
“Where’s the plan?” Matt Lauer repeated.
”…running for political cover,” Sarah Palin concluded.
Sarah Palin then said the Tea Party’s plan was to allow for healthcare reform to sort itself out in the free market and encourage more competition and “less tort reforms threats,” before going back to “what thwarts those plans is the far left. It’s President Obama and his supporters who will not allow the Republicans to usher in free market, patient-centered, doctor-patient relationship uh links to reform healthcare.”
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President Barack Obama has apologized to Americans whose health insurance plans have been cancelled as a result of his signature health law.
In recent weeks, insurance companies have reportedly cancelled policies that do not meet strict requirements under Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare overhaul.
“We didn’t do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law,” the president said in an interview with NBC News.
But a senior Republican labeled his remarks a “half-hearted apology”.
During his campaign for the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, Barack Obama repeatedly insisted that people who liked their health insurance policies would be able to keep them.
But it now appears that millions of people who purchased plans on the private individual market rather than receive health coverage from the government or their employers may in fact have to buy new, possibly more expensive plans.
“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Barack Obama said.
“We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them, and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”
Barack Obama has apologized to Americans whose health insurance plans have been cancelled as a result of his signature health law
The health law’s supporters have said most people thrown off their health plans will be able to buy better insurance policies at better prices, especially those eligible for subsidies provided under the health law.
The opposition Republicans, who have fought the president’s healthcare law at every turn, have seized on the reports of the policy cancellations. Some have gone so far as to accuse Barack Obama of lying to the public during his campaign for the law’s passage.
Even some of Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats have suggested the administration delay parts of the law’s implementation, including a requirement that people carry health insurance or face a penalty.
Barack Obama’s remarks on Thursday came after weeks of serious problems with healthcare.gov, a website established under the law that is akin to a shopping site for private health insurance plans.
Among other issues, it has been plagued by long wait times to sign up for an insurance plan and serious flaws on the back end where customers’ data are processed and sent to insurance companies.
Barack Obama has vowed the website will be repaired.
The Republican response to Barack Obama’s remarks was swift, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying “if the president is truly sorry for breaking his promises to the American people, he’ll do more than just issue a half-hearted apology on TV”.
Thursday’s television interview was the latest effort by Barack Obama to win public support for the embattled healthcare law.
On Wednesday Barack Obama travelled into the heart of Republican territory to seek cross-party support for the measure.
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Obamacare website – HealthCare.gov – experienced a connectivity glitch on Sunday, another complication for an already beleaguered population of would-be health care applicants, the company operating the hub has said.
White House officials said Terremark was working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Health and Human Services spokesman Joanne Peters said in a statement that HealthCare.gov website was down because the company “experienced a failure in a networking component, and planned maintenance to replace it brought down network connectivity to the data center.”
Obamacare website experienced a connectivity glitch on Sunday, another complication for an already beleaguered population of would-be health care applicants
“Our understanding is that this failure is likely impacting several other sites, in addition to HealthCare.gov and the Data Services Hub,” Joanne Peters added.
The October 1st launch of Barack Obama’s health care law, dubbed as Obamacare, has been marred by technical glitches and delays.
The Health and Human Services department has encouraged website users to contact their call center to apply for coverage.
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Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have joined forces to promote Obama’s healthcare initiative, known as Obamacare, just days before one of its major provisions takes effect.
In New York, they discussed the law’s progress and denounced Republican efforts to stymie its implementation.
Beginning on October 1st, Americans who lack health insurance will be able to buy policies in online market places.
Barack Obama said opponents were trying to “scare” people from signing up.
Even as conservative groups have undertaken a broad effort to undermine the law by persuading people to ignore it, Barack Obama said he was confident Americans would come to see its advantages.
“When people look and see that they can get high-quality, affordable healthcare for less than their cell phone bill, they’re going to sign up,” Barack Obama said.
The discussion, billed as an interview by Bill Clinton of Barack Obama took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
It was part of the Clinton Global Initiative, a conference featuring Bill Clinton that he has held regularly since leaving the White House in 2001.
Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have joined forces to promote Obamacare
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Barack Obama’s Democratic Party passed in 2010 in the face of unified Republican opposition, has been the centrepiece of Obama’s domestic policy agenda.
Its provisions include a requirement, which takes effect in January, that individuals who do not have health insurance provided by their employers purchase it on the open market.
On October 1st, online health insurance marketplaces run by the US federal government or by the states will begin accepting customers.
Opposition to the law, which is known to both sides of the debate as Obamacare, has become one of the central tenets of Republican and conservative politics, analysts say.
The House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republican Party, has held dozens of votes on bills to repeal the law or strip it of funding. The bills have gone nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The law has become a central point in the ongoing budget battle, with some Republicans pushing to shut down the operation of the US government by not passing a new budget if the Democrats refuse to defund the law.
On Friday, the House passed a bill that would prevent a government shutdown – but would strip the healthcare law of its funding. And on Tuesday, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas undertook a marathon speech on the floor of the Senate to denounce the law and demand the government block its implementation.
“Those who have opposed the idea of universal healthcare in the first place and have fought this thing tooth and nail through Congress and through the courts and so forth have been trying to scare and discourage people from getting a good deal,” Barack Obama said.
On Monday, Bill Clinton asked Barack Obama why he had decided to tackle healthcare reform early in his first term, even as the economy was mired in one of the worst downturns since the Great Depression.
Barack Obama said healthcare was a “massive” part of the American economy, and noted the US was the only advanced industrialized nation that permitted “large numbers of its people to languish without health insurance”.
President Barack Obama also accused congressional Republicans of using the “pretty straightforward” issue as political capital as the government hurdles toward a shutdown on October 1st, when the law funding its operation expires.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) has hired more than 1,600 new employees in the aftermath of Obamacare’s passage.
The new employees include just two described as “consumer safety” officers, but 86 tasked with “criminal investigating” – indicating that the agency is building an army of detectives to sleuth out violations of a law that many in Congress who supported it still find confusing.
On the day President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, HHS received authority from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to make as many as 1,814 new hires under an emergency “Direct Hiring Authority” order.
The Obama administration ordered that employment expansion despite a government-wide hiring freeze.
A total of 1,684 of those positions were filled and the new employees’ salaries alone cost the U.S. at least $138.8 million every year.
The HHS has hired more than 1,600 new employees in the aftermath of Obamacare’s passage
The hiring began in May 2010 and continued through June 2013, making the later hires eligible for higher salaries as a result of annual cost-of-living increases.
The difference between what HHS spent on new Obamacare-related employees and what it was authorized to spend is explained by its failure to hire most of the 261 “consumer safety officers” it was authorized to bring aboard. Only two such employees were hired.
But while OPM authorized HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Denise Carter – later renamed Denise Wells – to hire 50 criminal investigators, the agency increased that number to 86 on its own.
The lowest salary on the list was for a single contracting officer at Grade 7, Step 1, an annual rate of about $42,350, including a so-called “differential” payments. Those increases are given to all federal employees in order to adjust for regional cost-of-living differences.
The highest salary in 2010 dollars, including that differential payment, was about $161,450, earned by a total of 29 new employee. They include health insurance administrators, contracting officers and information technology managers.
The fleet of 86 new criminal investigators are earning a range of compensation between $51,800 and $89,350, according to the 2010 salary tables and differential payment guidelines.
The Obama administration will not begin enforcing employer mandates in the Obamacare law until 2015 – one year later than originally planned.
Mark Mazur, the Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy, announced on the agency’s blog that the administration “will provide an additional year before the … mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin”.
The blog post explained that the delay was intended to leave time to simplify reporting requirements and give companies time to adapt.
But an unnamed Treasury source said the extra year will give the White House an extra year to persuade health insurers to participate in the exchanges that make up the backbone of the Affordable Care Act.
The revised timetable, the source added, will also push back the final implementation of Obamacare’s penalties past the 2014 midterm elections, providing Republicans fewer chances to highlight the law’s potentially harmful effects on businesses’ bottom lines.
The Obama administration’s new schedule means business won’t be penalized immediately for failing to enroll all their workers in health plans and report the results to the federal government, Bloomberg News was first to report.
The Obama administration will not begin enforcing employer mandates in the Obamacare law until 2015
The Affordable Care Act includes financial penalties on companies that fail to comply if they employ 50 or more people. The Treasury Department is involved because the Internal Revenue Service, a Treasury sub-agency, will be tasked with enforcing the law and assessing those penalties.
“Obamacare is a flawed law,” said Republican National Committee Deputy Press Secretary Raffi Williams.
“It has been from day one and continues to be one now.”
“This latest announcement is just another sign that the president and his administration are afraid of the havoc that this imperfect law will wreak on everyday Americans.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair Darrell Issa, a California Republican, piled on Tuesday evening, drawing attention to the GOP’s efforts to repeal the Obamacare law in its entirety.
“The House has repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare because it will not work and is bad public policy,” Darrell Issa said in a statement.
“The President has delayed a critical component of the Affordable Care Act because it is absolutely unaffordable for American job creators and workers. It is unclear that he has the authority to do this without Congress.”
“This is another in a string of extra legal actions taken by his Administration to mask the horrible impact his law will have on the economy and health care in the United States.”
Politico noted that Tuesday’s pivot from the White House will not affect the so-called “individual mandate”, which will require most Americans to be insured. It also won’t delay the scheduled October rollout of health care marketplaces, called exchanges, set up to help taxpayers and companies find coverage that satisfies the Obamacare law.
The administration has been on a full-court press in California, Texas and Florida, enlisting the help of Hispanic advocacy groups and Spanish-language media networks to encourage enrollment in advance of the autumn start date.
The Treasury Department said it expects to publish regulatory rules in one week that will formalize the new 2015 enforcement deadline for companies.
Barack Obama snapped at staffers as he realized they forgot to put his remarks on the podium moments after he tried to begin health care speech in San Jose, California.
“It is wonderful to see all of you, and I want to thank everybody who is here,” Barack Obama began.
“I think there’s only one problem, and that is that my remarks are not sitting here.”
“People!” Barack Obama barked, half-smiling.
“By Friday afternoon, things get a little challenged.”
Barack Obama was in San Jose to remind California journalists and Obamacare-watchers about a partnership between his administration and Spanish-language media networks like Univision, La Opinión and Telemundo.
The White House hopes to leverage those networks’ reach into Spanish-speaking households in California, Texas and Florida in order to encourage millions of Americans in Hispanic households to enter health care exchanges that will open for enrollment in October.
Overall, an administration official said during a background conference call Thursday, the president’s staff hopes to enroll 7 million Americans, including 2.6 million young people.
Nearly 6 million Californians will be eligible for their state’s Obamacare marketplace, 2.6 million of whom will be eligible to receive tax credits or other subsidies to pay their premium.
Nearly half of that subsidy-eligible group is Hispanic, and without their participation the effort will likely fall flat.
So what might have been a victory lap in politically comfortable territory quickly became an embarrassment.
While the president waited for a staffer to deliver his speech, a reporter in the crowd asked if he would answer a question.
“I’m going to have a – I’m going to answer a question at the end of the remarks,” Barack Obama said, seemingly unwilling to improvise, “but I want to make sure that we get the remarks out.”
“People!” he shouted again.
Barack Obama snapped at staffers as he realized they forgot to put his remarks on the podium moments after he tried to begin health care speech in San Jose
“Oh, goodness. Oh, somebody is tripping. Folks are sweating back there right now.”
After the requisite amount of laughter from the comic-in-chief, the speech arrived. But moments later the National Republican Congressional Committee tweeted: “There’s never a teleprompter around when you need one.”
The group standing behind Barack Obama, representing the Spanish-language networks and the California Endowment, which has pumped millions into a campaign to enroll low-income Californians, seemed uneasy at the outset because their issue became a secondary concern after a new scandal brewed overnight related to a U.S. digital eavesdropping program.
“You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” the president said in defense of the longstanding snooping program.
“We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”
And minutes after protesters shouted at Barack Obama’s motorcade about the Keystone XL fuel pipeline, reporters’ interest was clearly more focused on the eavesdropping scandal than on his health care initiative.
Making matters worse for the second-term president, Obamacare itself is reaching new levels of unpopularity in the final months before it fully goes into effect.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this week shows 49% of Americans say they believe the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea, compared to 37% who support it.
Barack Obama’s troubles speaking off-the-cuff have been well-documented since the days of his first presidential campaign. During one 2008 appearance in Bristol, Virginia, Barack Obama fumbled over a hypothetical description of a small child with asthma who didn’t have proper preventive health care.
“Everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma,” then-candidate Barack Obama explained, “they end up taking up a hospital bed, it costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early and they got some treatment, and a, a breathalyzer – or inhalator, not a breathalyzer.”
“I haven’t had much sleep in the last 48 hours.”
“What they’ll say is, <<Well, it costs too much money>>,” Barack Obama continued, “but you know what? It would cost, about… It – it – it would cost about the same as what we would spend – It – Over the course of 10 years it would cost what it would cost us – All right. Okay. We’re going to – It – It would cost us about the same as it would cost for about – hold on one second. I can’t hear myself. But I’m glad you’re fired up, though. I’m glad.”
Observers at the event noted that few in the crowd were cheering, yelling or otherwise interrupting Barack Obama.
The president later made history when his handlers persuaded the Indian government to allow him the use of a teleprompter when he addressed that nation’s parliament in November 2010. The device had never been permitted there before.
“It looks like a podium,” one mystified Indian lawmaker said, according to a Washington Post reporter on the scene.
“Where do they place the paper?” asked another.
The US Supreme Court has ruled that President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reform (ObamaCare) act is constitutional.
The court upheld a core requirement known as the “individual mandate” that Americans buy insurance or pay a fine.
Of the nine justices on the bench, Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote was decisive in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in favor of the law.
The ruling comes months before the US election, with Republicans vowing to push for a repeal of the bill.
Healthcare is a deeply polarizing issue in the US and Republicans strongly opposed Barack Obama’s legislation.
The state of Florida, along with 12 other states, filed a legal challenge to the bill minutes after Barack Obama signed The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law in March 2010.
They were later joined by 13 more states, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and several individuals.
The US Supreme Court has ruled that President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare reform (ObamaCare) act is constitutional
Speaking afterwards, President Barack Obama called the court’s decision a victory for the country, saying people would not need to “hang their fortunes on chance” or fear financial ruin if they became sick.
Barack Obama said it was “time to move forward”, and that he would continue to implement and improve the healthcare law.
He added: “We will be better off because we had the courage to pass this law.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the healthcare bill was “bad law yesterday, it’s bad law today”.
“This is a time of choice for the American people. If we’re going get rid of ObamaCare we’re going to have to replace President Obama. My mission is to make sure we do exactly that.”
He called “ObamaCare” a tax rise that would add to the national debt, a “job-killer”, and said it would put the federal government “between you and your doctor”.
Congressional leaders also responded quickly to the verdict. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said: “We’ve passed plenty of terrible laws around here that were constitutional.”
On the Senate floor, he said the only way to fix the law was “full repeal”.
Meanwhile, the Senate’s Democratic majority leader, Harry Reid, disagreed: “Now that this matter is settled, let’s move on to other things. Like jobs.”
The mandate was eventually upheld by the justices, citing the taxation powers granted to Congress by the US constitution.
Chief Justice John Roberts said: “We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders.
“We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions.”
A majority of justices agreed that the penalty individuals must pay if they refuse to buy health insurance falls within Congress’ power to levy taxes, upholding the “individual mandate”.
“The mandate can be regarded as establishing a condition – not owning health insurance – that triggers a tax – the required payment to IRS,” Justice John Roberts wrote.
The government’s main argument was that the law was legal under Congress’ ability to regulate “interstate commerce” – but a majority of justices did not agree with this view.
Four dissenting justices said that limits on the power of Congress to regulate commerce and raise taxes “cannot be such as will enable the Federal Government to regulate all private conduct and to compel the States to function as administrators of federal programs.”
“That clear principle carries the day here,” they added.
In an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the dissenting justices went further, to say: “In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.”
While the court described the penalty as a tax, it did not invoke a law that could have prevented the justices from ruling on the case.
Under a law called the Anti-Injunction Act, taxes cannot be legally challenged until after they have been levied. This could have delayed a verdict till 2015 – after the “individual mandate” comes into effect and the first round of penalties have been paid.
They were also not required to rule on the issue of “severability”, which would determine whether other parts of the healthcare law could stand even if the mandate was struck down.
In addition to the individual mandate, the Supreme Court was asked consider another part of the law that deals with the expansion of Medicaid, a government healthcare programme for low-income citizens.
The court ruled to limit that provision but did not strike it down altogether, saying Congress could place conditions on the use of federal funds.
“What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding,” the Supreme Court’s opinion said.
Barack Obama’s wide-ranging healthcare reform bill, which is seen as a key achievement of his presidency, is facing its moment of judgement in the US Supreme Court.
The law, dubbed ObamaCare, passed in 2010, requires all Americans to obtain health insurance or face a penalty fine.
But conservative opponents of the president say that “mandate” is illegal under the terms of the US constitution.
The justices are expected to rule on Thursday, and could cut the mandate or strike down the whole law.
The debate over healthcare is a fiercely polarizing issue in the US, and a verdict either way is expected to have a major impact on the race for the White House.
Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, are just five months away from the presidential election.
The president maintains a slender lead in some polls, but is facing a stiff challenge from Mitt Romney and conservative opponents, amid a rocky economic outlook.
ObamaCare, passed in 2010, requires all Americans to obtain health insurance or face a penalty fine
Mitt Romney told a rally near Washington DC on Wednesday that if the Supreme Court did not quash the law he would “repeal and replace” the bill if he won the White House.
The bitter debate over the legislation has touched such partisan issues as state and individual rights, federal deficits, end-of-life care, and abortion and contraception funding.
The nine-member Supreme Court has several options.
It could decide that it is too early to rule on the case, as many of the law’s provisions – including the mandate to buy health insurance – do not come into force until 2014.
It could also dismiss the challenge to the mandate on a technicality, ruling that the penalty constitutes a tax lawfully imposed by Congress. Few observers expect the court to choose this option.
The meat of the case concerns the challenge to the individual mandate, which the justices could decide oversteps Congress’ right to regulate interstate commerce.
Analysts say that questioning from several conservative justices during oral arguments at the court in March revealed a deep level skepticism on the bench.
The court could decide to strike down the mandate and send the bill back to Congress to find a way to make the rest of it work. It could also overturn the entire law, ruling that the need to buy health insurance is integral to the legislation.
The Supreme Court is composed of nine justices, five seen as conservatives and four as liberals. It has delivered several divisive wafer-thin majority rulings in recent years, prompting criticism from liberals.
A 5-4 ruling in 2010 known as Citizens United changed campaign finance laws in the US to allow unrestricted fund-raising by independent groups not directly affiliated with candidates.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center found public approval of the court at its lowest level since records began in 1987.
The healthcare law – officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but commonly dubbed ObamaCare by opponents – was passed in 2009 without a single Republican vote in Congress, and signed into law by President Obama in June 2010.
Polls suggest many Americans would be pleased to see the law overturned.
However, individual elements of the bill are popular, and some people are opposed because they do not think it goes far enough.
The bill has already enabled millions of Americans aged under 26 to obtain health insurance by staying on their parents’ coverage for longer than previously allowed.
Patients with pre-existing medical conditions have also been able to obtain health insurance since the passage of the law.
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