By Mark Felsenthal
WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama launched a campaign to promote his signature healthcare program on Friday in the face of harsh criticism from congressional Republicans who say the plan will raise costs and hurt hiring.
Ahead of the Mothers’ Day holiday on Sunday, the president focused his remarks on how the plan could benefit women, who the administration believes will be less stuck on partisan objections to the plan and provide support that will make what has become known as “Obamacare” as success.
“Mothers are the number one validator for the young and uninsured and will be critical in the effort to encourage their kids to enroll for insurance in the fall,” a White House official said.
Republicans say the law will raise the costs of healthcare for all Americans, spawn a welter of new regulatory burdens on businesses and inhibit hiring.
“There are many women in their 20s and 30s who will be unable to afford the law’s massive premium increases,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday. “And there are many mothers who won’t be able to get by if their employers cut their hours due to Obamacare. Or if they lose their jobs because of it,” the Kentucky Republican said.
However Obama aides plan to use the same micro-targeting strategies that helped the president win re-election in November to sign up enough enrollees. Their outreach efforts will be central to the success of Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which aims to bring health insurance at subsidized rates to millions of uninsured Americans.
Administration officials hope to sign up 7 million people nationwide during an enrollment period that begins Oct. 1 and runs through the end of March. They say they zeroing in on an estimated 2.7 million healthy 18-25 year-olds.
One out of every three of these people live in three states: California, Florida, and Texas, officials said. The administration plans try to go community by community to identify people who are eligible to try to persuade them to enroll in the insurance plan.
The White House on Thursday announced a $150 million initiative to fund the hiring and training of thousands of workers who will go through community health centers to help people obtain insurance.
But political resistance to the plan is high, and public opinion polls still show disapproval outweighing approval of the healthcare law.
The fate the of health plan is expected to have a major bearing on the 2014 midterm congressional elections. If Americans embrace Obamacare, Democrats could benefit, while rejection could provide an electoral boost to Republicans.
By Mark Felsenthal