President Barack Obama enlisted the help of former President Bill Clinton as his administration opens a campaign to get millions of Americans to enroll for insurance under his signature health-care law.
Obama used an appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative, hosted by the former president, in an attempt to fend off attacks on the program from Republicans one week before a six-month enrollment period is set to begin.
“There’s been millions of dollars spent making people scared and worried about this stuff,” Obama said, sitting side-by-side with Clinton at the gathering in New York. “Rather than try and disabuse people of every bit of this information that’s out there, what we’re saying is: ‘Just look for yourself.’”
The Obama administration is campaigning to get uninsured Americans to sign up for coverage. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 7 million Americans who don’t get health coverage at their jobs will enroll through new insurance marketplaces.
The partisan clash over the law has been waged for three years since Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. For the law to succeed, the White House must enroll millions of young and health Americans for the insurance plans.
“The only way this works, for example, is if young people show up, even if they buy the cheapest plan,” Clinton said.
The Republican-controlled House last week passed legislation to finance government operations past the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, while eliminating funding for the health-care law.
If that effort fails, Republican leaders have threatened to introduce a bill that would tie raising the country’s debt limit to delaying implementation of the health law for a year.
Republican-run legislatures and governors in at least 21 states have refused funding to expand Medicaid coverage for the poor and 27 have declined to set up the insurance exchanges created under the measure. House Republicans have voted more than 40 times to repeal or defund all or parts of the law.
Opposition to the law has become a “litmus test” for Republican officials in some states, Obama said.
To counter Republican attempts to scuttle the law, the White House’s six-month campaign to build backing for the law is featuring cabinet members and celebrity supporters including former talk show host Oprah Winfrey, rock musician Jon Bon Jovi and comedian Amy Poehler, to tout its benefits.
Obama will talk about the law again Sept. 26 at an event in a Maryland suburb of Washington, and first lady Michelle Obama plans events designed to highlight the benefits for women and veterans. Vice President Joe Biden will hold a call with nurses across the country while other Cabinet officials will hold events with local officials across the country.
This is second high-profile event Clinton has hosted to promote the law that has become known as Obamacare. Earlier this month, the former president delivered an almost hour-long speech that was broadcast on the White House website.
“The health of our people, the security and stability of our families, and the strength of our economy are all riding on getting health care reform right and doing it well,” Clinton said in the Sept. 4 address at his presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, failed in their attempt to pass a comprehensive health care law two decades ago. Hillary Clinton, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, introduced Obama at today’s event.
More than 1,000 business, government, and philanthropic were expected in New York for the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual meeting hosted by the Clinton family foundation. Participants include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein, Cisco Systems Inc. CEO John Chambers, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan.