WASHINGTON — President
That's Obama's deal with popular media these days as the president enlists help to boost healthcare sign-up numbers before the March 31 enrollment deadline for coverage this year.
In recent days, Obama has filled out his
Administration officials estimate they have signed up more than 5 million of the 6 million people they hope to enroll by the deadline — a downward revision from the 7 million target before the trouble with the rollout of the website, HealthCare.gov.
As healthcare experts predicted, young people have been taking their time to get on board. Now, the White House is going after them through every media outlet and opinion leader they can mobilize. "Validators," aides call them.
"In order to reach them," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, "we have to, you know, be creative."
While the White House pushes that message, Republicans continue to argue that Obamacare is fatally flawed and will harm the other end of the age spectrum. As Obama traveled to Orlando on Thursday, the office of House Speaker
"The president has focused plenty of time and energy of late on young people," Boehner's office said in a news release. "Isn't it time he directly address older Americans who are bearing the brunt of his healthcare law?"
There were nearly 4 million visits to HealthCare.gov last week, administration figures show, and more calls to the call center March 14 than any day since December. On Wednesday, there were more than 845,000 visits to the website.
The federal government has also spent about $52 million on advertising from January to March, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. In one ad,
In his remarks on the road Thursday, Obama focused on economic opportunity but put in another plug for the Affordable Care Act. "The deadline to get covered this year is March 31, which is just 11 days away. So if you are uninsured, check out your new choices at HealthCare.gov," he told a crowd at
In the final push, the White House has turned to sports media and stars to play a major role.
Miami Heat player
On Thursday, the White House ran a social media campaign trying to drive traffic to GamePlan4Me.com, a website promoting the sports benefits of having health insurance and featuring athletes such as Bryant,
Some of the pitch men and women are not quite so famous.
Health and Human Services Secretary
The White House is "comfortable" with the pace of enrollment, Carney said, but thinks it can round up more young people before the deadline.
When Massachusetts ran its first enrollment, he said, "the demographic breakdown at the various stages of enrollment in the open-enrollment period is mirrored by what we've seen in our figures."
"I don't think anyone would argue that Massachusetts did not get, in the end, either sufficient numbers or the sufficient demographic breakdown that it needed to function effectively," Carney said. "So we feel confident that we'll do the same."