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National News

December 4, 2013

Obama tries to move past website woes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking to move past its website woes, the Obama administration is launching a two-pronged health care strategy this month aimed at avoiding enrollment snafus come January while also trying to refocus the public’s attention on broader benefits of the sweeping law.

Case in point: Tuesday morning the administration released a 50-state report saying that nearly 1.5 million people were found eligible for Medicaid during October. As website problems depressed sign-ups for subsidized private coverage, that safety-net program for low-income people saw a nearly 16 percent increase in states that have agreed to expand it, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

President Barack Obama was to focus on such benefits at a White House event Tuesday. Flanked by Americans who the White House says have gained as a result of the overhaul, the president will try to remind Americans that his health law is preventing insurance discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions and is allowing young people to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26. He’ll also take aim at Republicans, arguing that the GOP is trying to strip away those benefits without presenting an alternative.

Behind the scenes, the administration is furiously trying to rectify an unresolved issue with enrollment data that could become a significant headache after the first of the year. Insurers say much of the enrollment data they’re receiving is practically useless, meaning some consumers might not be able to get access to benefits on Jan. 1, the date their coverage is scheduled to take effect.

On Monday, administration officials and insurance company representatives began holding daily 7 a.m. meetings to discuss the enrollment data. Officials at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services — the department overseeing the insurance exchanges — are also personally reaching out to individuals who have enrolled online to make sure their information is correct and that they are sending payments. Call center representatives are doing the same with people who enrolled over the phone.

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