White House solicits feel-good Obamacare stories

CBS

Now that the Obamacare marketplaces are open for business, the Obama administration is aiming to improve perceptions about the controversial law with its success stories.

A new page on WhiteHouse.gov allows visitors to submit their own Obamacare stories, along with their name, email address and zip code. “Whether you've got new insurance that started on January 1, know someone who does, or simply want to help get the word out about the importance of getting covered, we want to hear from you,” the site reads.

In an email to citizens, White House deputy senior adviser David Simas gave an example of the kinds of stories they’re looking for: “Today, health reform is real in a new way for people like Daniel, a 22-year-old student who enrolled in a gold-level insurance plan and is paying just $70 a month after subsidies,” he wrote. “That means welcome packets and insurance cards in the mail. That means new appointments for check-ups are on the books. And it means the peace of mind, security, and dignity that comes with taking your health care into your own hands.”

President Obama, currently on vacation in Hawaii, also shared a success story via Twitter: “I signed the ACA for kids like Marcelas Owens. He lost his mom bc she couldn't afford coverage. Today millions of Americans finally can,” he wrote.”

Owens, whose uninsured mother died of a treatable illness at the age of 27, became the face of the Affordable Care Act during debate over the legislation. When Mr. Obama signed the bill into law in 2010, Owens (then 11 years old) stood by the president’s side.

Organizing for Action, the nonprofit that evolved from Mr. Obama’s campaign organization Obama for America, has also launched a website to promote stories from individuals who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act. 

Now that millions of Americans will start benefitting from coverage on the marketplaces, it’s possible public views of Obamacare could improve. A CBS News/New York Times poll released in December showed that more Americans continue to disapprove (50 percent) than approve (39 percent) of the law.  The intention of the Affordable Care Act may be primarily to help those without insurance obtain it, but Americans without health insurance (53 percent) are just as likely as those with insurance (51 percent) to disapprove of the law.

While it searches for positive stories about the law, the administration is still responding to continued controversy over Obamacare and possible complications.

On Tuesday evening, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily blocked the implementation of the Obamacare mandate for certain religious groups to provide health insurance for employees that includes birth control coverage. Sotomayor’s order applies only to the organizations that requested it, the administration has until Friday morning to respond.

Meanwhile, the administration has also taken steps to mitigate any problems consumers may face as they try to access their new Obamacare insurance. For instance, the administration appealed to pharmacies to accommodate patients who may have a temporary disruption in their prescription coverage -- CVS and Walgreens have plans to do so.

Comments