Friday, December 13, 2013
By JULIET EILPERIN The Washington Post
(Continued from page 1)
Former President Bill Clinton speaks about health care at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. Clinton’s speech comes with the Affordable Healthcare Act in final countdown mode, just a few weeks before the scheduled Oct. 1 launch of online health insurance markets in the states. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
"We're giving them the information that they need before they sit down to enroll," said John Maginnis, BCBS Louisiana spokesman.
Republicans have continued to attack the law and the administration's efforts to promote it. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a potential 2016 presidential candidate who has sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday questioning why the agency was spending at least $8.7 million to promote the measure through television ads.
"Until critical questions can be answered regarding the availability and type of health insurance to be provided by ObamaCare, it is unconscionable to spend taxpayer dollars to promote and advertise ObamaCare plans that have yet to be finalized," he wrote.
HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters, who would not confirm the size of the ad buy, defended the administration's decision to spend money on the issue. "Starting Oct. 1, millions of Americans will be able to access quality, affordable health coverage for the first time, and we will continue educating and informing the uninsured of this opportunity," she wrote in an e-mail.
House Republicans, who have voted 40 times to repeal or modify parts of the law, plan to hold at least three additional votes aimed at dismantling the legislation this fall: one to require verification for its subsidies to consumers; a second to block the Independent Payment Advisory Board; and a third to eliminate the money the administration is using for implementation.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating the more than 100 groups that have received grants as "navigators" to help educate Americans about their options. The law's supporters said the questionnaires represent an unfair burden; Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., the panel's vice chairman, said she and others are "simply asking . . . 'Tell us how you will spend the money and how you will protect personal financial and health information during the enrollment process.' "
The administration is attempting to counter the opposition with its own efforts. Sebelius made at least nine public appearances in the past two months across the country, including in July at the NAACP's annual convention in Orlando., where she delivered remarks, and a visit to a Houston clinic in August. She will head to Newark next week. The Labor Department, meanwhile, is providing insurance referrals and offering voluntary staff training at its 3,000 American Job Centers.