By Jonathan Easley - 02/28/14 01:18 PM EST
Weary Obama administration officials are battling fatigue, as they try to meet their goal of enrolling 7 million people in ObamaCare by the end of March.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner on Thursday admitted the high-profile battles over the crisis-marred rollout have taken their toll.
Tavenner said the media had covered the rollout “in so much detail, in so many channels, so often,” that she was “really tired of talking about” it.
“We certainly have experienced … difficulties, and I can personally relate to the challenges of new systems, relationships with vendors, and charting a course through previously un-navigated waters,” she said in a keynote speech Thursday at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Officials and allies of the White House are mounting an intense effort over the next month to enroll as many young people as possible in the exchanges.
Enroll America President Anne Filipic, who said she and her staff are running on fumes, will join a bus tour next month through Texas and Ohio, with stops at events popular with young people like the SXSW music festival.
“I’m really looking forward to joining that tour, because as exhausted and worn out as many of us are now, every time I go out on the road I’m inspired by the incredible dedication of our hundreds of staff and tens of thousands of volunteers that show up every day,” she said. “I’m reminded of just how important these benefits are to the Americans across the country who have been waiting for years for affordable health insurance.”
Administration officials and outside groups have been working for years on the complicated healthcare overhaul, but the stakes jumped considerably on Oct. 17, when the government shutdown ended and all eyes turned to the failing HealthCare.gov website.
Since then, it’s been five months of blanket media coverage, congressional hearings, a public relations blitz and political decisions about how best to move forward.
The work is not done, and in many cases, is just ramping up.
The White House is launching a final, coordinated push with state and local officials and other advocacy groups to micro-target geographic areas and minority groups that have high levels of the uninsured.
There is considerable political pressure on the White House to come as close as possible to its original goal of 7 million enrollees by March 31. As of late February, only 4 million people had enrolled.
Many administration officials have become the public face of the final enrollment push, visiting different cities and making dozens of media appearances to raise awareness.
Outside groups are doing something similar.
Enroll America has grown its pool of volunteers to nearly 20,000, increased its field reach by 35 percent, hired more than 70 new employees since January, increased its digital advertising budget from $5 million to $7 million for 2014 and will be holding thousands of enrollment events across the country in March.