President Obama will adopt the role of traveling salesman Thursday, heading to the Maryland suburbs to pitch the benefits and price of ObamaCare health insurance plans that become available at the beginning of next month.
A White House official said Obama hopes to "speak directly, in plain and honest terms," in a bid to "cut through all the noise coming out of Washington."
"The President will lay out exactly what consumers can expect when they visit these new online marketplaces: the opportunity to comparison shop among plans that meet their specific needs, budgets and preferences," the official said.
"He will explain how and when consumers can sign up for insurance – from Oct. 1 through March of 2014 – and will detail the protections that are guaranteed forever under all of the health plans purchased through the Marketplace, regardless of which plan is chosen."
Implicit in the White House's framing of the event is the acknowledgment that many Americans remain wary and confused with the healthcare reform law.
In an Economist/YouGov poll released Wednesday, 49 percent of Americans said the Affordable Care Act should be repealed, versus just 13 percent who said it should be kept in place as is.
Some 23 percent said they wanted to see ObamaCare expanded, while 15 percent weren't sure.
“Later this morning in Maryland, the president will try yet again to sell his namesake health care plan to a skeptical public. It must be frustrating for him that folks seem to be tuning out all the happy talk," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The White House event is also an acknowledgment that Republicans and conservative groups have been successful in depicting insurance premiums under the law as expensive and onerous.
Top administration officials spent much of Wednesday touting figures that showed that for many low and middle-income families, insurance plans would cost less than what was originally projected.
The president will continue that effort in Maryland, where he'll note an average 25-year-old making $25,000 per year could be covered for as little as $80 per month.
Signing up young and poor Americans to the exchanges will be crucial to the overall success of the law. If they fail to sign up for the insurance exchanges — particularly the young and healthy people needed to balance out premium costs — the law may come unraveled.
Democrats say that's what Republicans want to happen.
“Republicans don’t want the government to be able to help make health care both available and more affordable. It violates their ideology, so nothing’s going to happen in this next year on the issues still to be resolved in terms of implementation that would change that,” former President Clinton told PBS News on Monday. “The only thing that will change public opinion is when it works.”
But it will be up to President Obama to sell the bill.
In addition to his speech, Obama held a conference call Wednesday with state and local officials to ask for help in promoting the sign-up.
White House aides also met Wednesday with representatives from urban television and radio networks in a bid to promote the exchanges.
The president has also enlisted celebrities to the cause, with notables like "Scandal" actress Kerry Washington sending tweets encouraging their followers to check out the exchanges.
A White House official said the administration would lean on a “diverse group of stakeholders,” including radio DJs, librarians, faith leaders, pharmacies, celebrities, women’s magazines and insurance companies, to market the healthcare exchanges directly to young Americans.