DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – It was almost 5 p.m. on the dot when President Barack Obama, aboard Air Force Once, arrived at Dallas Love Field. Among those on the tarmac to welcome President Obama were Fort Worth freshman Congressman Marc Veasey, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.
President Obama compared the problem-plagued federal health care website to a store that has a good product for sale and not enough cash registers to ring up the purchases.
Speaking to volunteers in Dallas, at the Temple Emanu-El, Mr. Obama said “nothing drives me more crazy” than knowing that good insurance plans are for sale under the Affordable Care Act, but people are having trouble getting onto the website to buy it.
The administration has promised that the HealthCare.gov website will work well for most Americans by the end of November.
Meant to highlight the law’s benefits, Obama’s visit will also underscore the obstacles the law faces in Republican states where governors such as Texas’ Rick Perry have refused to take advantage of a provision in the law that expands Medicaid to assist more of the working poor. At more than 23-percent Texas has the highest rate of uninsured Americans. David Simas, a White House adviser working on the law’s implementation, said Obama intends to draw attention to those Republican governors who, unlike Perry, have agreed to expand Medicaid for their residents.
He said Mr. Obama will urge Texas’ Republican leaders “to join conservative governors in other states, like Ohio and in Michigan and in Arizona, to put politics aside and not deny people health care out of ideology or politics.”
Texas also is among the 36 states not providing their own insurance marketplaces, which means residents there must sign up through the federal website that stumbled badly upon its launch October 1.
On Tuesday, Marilyn Tavenner, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which is helping implement the law, told senators that repairs to the system were now permitting nearly 17,000 people to register each hour “with almost no errors.”
He President will also attend two fundraisers for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Before departing for Dallas, Mr. Obama held a two-hour health care meeting at the White House with 16 Senate Democrats facing re-election next year. Many of those lawmakers are worried that the problem-plagued rollout could negatively affect their races.
The president has been aggressively promoting the law in the face of numerous setbacks. In addition to the problem-plagued enrollment launch, insurers have been sending some of their customers termination notices because their policies don’t meet federal requirements. The notices have put Obama and White House officials on the defensive as they attempt to explain Obama’s early vow that under the new law, people who like their existing coverage would be allowed to keep it.
The Obama administration on Tuesday repeatedly refused to state a position on a mostly Republican push to write legislation that would permit insurers to reinstate canceled plans.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is likely to confront similar questions and more on Wednesday when she testifies before the Senate Finance Committee.
A study released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the market for insurance — including the uninsured and consumers who purchase insurance individually — is 28.6 million people. The study concluded that 3 out of 5, or more than 17 million people, will be eligible for the tax credits. Texas, California and Florida have the highest numbers of residents eligible for the credits.
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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