Obama, admitting problems, asks backers to rally for healthcare law

WASHINGTON -- President Obama told supporters to tune out the “noise” and the “setbacks” to his floundering healthcare law on Monday as he tried to motivate his network of activists to join a campaign to boost enrollment.

During an online call hosted by Organizing for Action, Obama acknowledged problems with the federal health insurance website, saying he believed the bugs and errors on had “created and fed” a lot of misinformation about the law. Obama asked his backers to fight against criticism and spread the word about the benefits of the law.

If they do that “over the next six months, then this law is going to last for generations to come,” Obama said. “I’m going to need your help, your energy, your faith.”

Organizing for Action, the advocacy group that grew out of Obama’s reelection campaign, is set to launch an effort to seek out and enroll millions of uninsured Americans on the federal and state-run marketplaces. The campaign, which includes both door-to-door work and efforts to encourage people to talk about insurance with their relatives over the holidays, will pick up in coming months, organizers said. Open enrollment in the healthcare insurance program is scheduled to end March 31.


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Obama said his administration would meet its Nov. 30 deadline for working out most of the website’s problems.

“I am confident by the end of this month it’s going to be functioning for the vast majority of folks,” Obama said. “Everybody who wants to get enrolled is going to get enrolled.”

But Obama emphasized that the “website alone” would not be enough. As the site’s problems persist, the White House has highlighted other “channels” open to those trying to enroll in the private insurance plan. On Monday, the White House acknowledged that health officials were working with insurance companies to allow consumer to buy directly from insurers, rather than through the federal program.

“What I want to do is make sure everybody on the phone call understands, we’ve always understood that we’re going to have enroll people by mail, we’re going to have to enroll people on the phone, we’re going to have to enroll people in person,” Obama said. In an inconvenient glitch, the Organizing for Action website experienced some problems during the call, blocking some from hearing the president’s remarks.

Obama, sounding fatigued on the scratchy connection, appealed to his army of backers to fight another campaign with him.

“I’ve got one more campaign in me, that’s making sure this law works,” he said.

Twitter: @khennessey