White House Turns to Local Officials to Push Obamacare

Saturday, 29 Jun 2013 05:27 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Amid increasing hostility to Obamacare by governors of such states as Florida and Texas, the White House is turning to mayors and other local officials to help promote and execute the healthcare law.

“We clearly do not have an ally in Tallahassee,” Florida State Democratic Rep. José Javier Rodriguez told The New York Times. He was referring to state Republican officials and GOP Gov. Rick Scott, who reluctantly shifted his longstanding opposition to Obamacare earlier this year.

Rodriguez, who represents Miami, said that he and State Sen. Eleanor Sobel, whose district includes Broward County, recently participated in a conference call with Obama administration officials seeking their help in carrying out the law.

“So we are working directly with community groups and officials in Washington to make sure people here have access to affordable health insurance plans in the exchange,” Rodriguez said.

The effort comes as the White House seeks to persuade consumers, particularly healthy young people, to sign up for Obamacare coverage when open enrollment starts on Oct. 1.

According to the Times, the effort employs tactics the White House used during Obama’s re-election campaign, focusing particularly on Hispanics, who are much more likely to be uninsured.

About 7 in 10 Hispanic voters nationally and 6 in 10 in Florida voted for Obama last year, according to exit polls by Edison Research quoted by the Times.

Obamacare is expected to provide 10 million uninsured Hispanics with an opportunity to get affordable coverage, the White House said. They account for 40 percent of the 25 million uninsured Americans expected to gain coverage over the next three years, the Times reports.

A number of states headed by GOP governors have refused to organize the regulated marketplaces, or exchanges, for the sale of subsidized insurance — leaving the task to the federal government.

The governors also have refused to expand Medicaid to provide insurance for low-income residents who do not already qualify, the Times reports.

In his February reversal, Governor Scott said that he would expand Medicaid coverage to as many as 900,000 more Floridians under Obamacare.

Florida had led legal challenges to Obamacare, which was upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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