WASHINGTON – President Obama today is highlighting milestones in the new health care law, seeking to counter widespread criticism of the overhaul passed six months ago by featuring stories of real people who are already benefiting from some of its provisions.
The White House launched a new website with a link titled "50 States, 50 Stories.’’ He was hosting more than 30 state insurance officials at the White House (including Bay State insurance commissioner Joseph Murphy) and visiting a Virginia family to discuss the legislation.
The effort to show tangible benefits includes a White House-produced web video of a Keene, NH woman – Gail O’Brien – who has non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She lacked insurance when she was diagnosed and said she was denied coverage because she was already sick. But since the law’s passage she has been able to buy coverage through a new pre-existing condition insurance plan established under the law. Obama said she was the first NH resident to sign up for the pre-existing plan.
On the administration’s promotional video, O’Brien receives what the White House describes as a "surprise phone call’’ from the president, who is shown speaking to her from the Oval Office.
"If it wasn’t for you, I probably wouldn’t be here right now,’’ O’Brien tells the president, from the dining room of her bungalow. The president replies: "You’re the poster child for why this is so necessary and why we’re so proud of the reforms we initiated.’’
A number of provisions of the law take effect today, including a requirement that children up to age 26 be permitted to remain on family plans and a ban on lifetime coverage limits. The main requirement, that virtually all Americans obtain coverage, does not kick in until 2014.
Polls show that only about a third of Americans favor the law, while 30 to 40 percent oppose it. The economy has eclipsed health care as the top priority for most voters. A recent poll conducted by The Associated Press found that few people understand how the bill will work.
The GOP is plotting ways to repeal sections of the law if it gains enough power in Congress in the mid-term elections. The Republican National Committee today listed a number of news clippings on its website today that it says shows many Democrats are running from the bill, "for their political lives.’’
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.