With Campaign Season Taking Off, White House Offers Democrats Help On Selling Health Law
Politico: White House officials prepared a plan Tuesday to help Democrats sell the health reform law during the midterm election season that will focus on early deliverables to win over a skeptical public. "Two leaders from the White House Office of Health Reform, Nancy-Ann DeParle and Stephanie Cutter, briefed the House Democratic Caucus on the soon-to-be implemented reforms. They focused the conversation on consumer-friendly provisions including extending coverage for dependents through age 26, implementing high-risk pools for Americans with pre-existing conditions and supplementing insurance for early retirees. ... Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) also debuted a health reform calculator House members could put on their websites, which would allow constituents to see how the new law would impact them." Democrats hope the programs lay a foundation on new entitlements that will prove hard to break (Kliff and Haberkorn, 5/11).
The Hill: Lawmakers met Tuesday evening with White House officials "to discuss the latest steps the administration has been taking to put in place the early deliverables of health reform." Some members also asked for a commitment that President Barack Obama would continue to help sell the bill. "'We suggested that the Number One spokesperson for this lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,' said Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Wis.). 'And he can do a great job.' Others said Obama's role going forward was never in question. 'That's a commitment the president made from Day One,' said Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ). 'They're really here to tell us how the commitment's being delivered'" (Pecquet, 5/11).
The Washington Post: Recent days highlight ways in which the White House has been taking a more active role in selling the plan. "On Saturday, President Obama chose health care as the subject of his weekly radio address, passing over more immediate concerns like the oil spill, the attempted Times Square terrorist attack and the financial overhaul bill now before the Senate. And in a May 10 letter to congressional leaders, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlined specific health-care benefits that are available now or will be soon - in some cases ahead of schedule. The outreach effort was launched by the White House in recent weeks and aims to improve perceptions of the landmark legislation, while smoothing an implementation process that will take four years" (Murray, 5/11).
USA Today: But voter anxiety could be a hitch in Obama's efforts to sell his achievements. "The White House contends that Obama's agenda is designed to grow the economy and eventually reduce health care costs - but that it will take time to dig out of the hole left by the Bush administration. Obama says he understands why many Americans are restless, and why his administration doesn't get more credit." Still, "[h]istorians call Obama's record incomparable. With passage of the $940 billion, 10-year health care bill in March, Obama has pushed through more substantial domestic-policy initiatives in 15 months than most presidents do during their entire tenures, they say" (Page and Hall, 5/12).