By Ferdous Al-Faruque - 06/17/14 10:57 AM EDT
President Obama and former Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday thanked recruiters with Enroll America for helping to launch ObamaCare.
Enroll America has close ties to the Obama administration, and campaigned around the country to sign people up for the new healthcare exchanges.
In a video message to attendees at the State of Enrollment conference, Obama praised the recruiters, community organizers, hospital leaders, navigators, faith leaders and elected officials who he said helped more than 8 million people sign up for health insurance.
“I could not be more grateful to you for all you're doing to help Americans get covered, but we cannot let our guard down now,” he said. “As we look towards 2015, we need you to keep telling your stories, keep spreading the word, keep standing up for folks trying to get covered because the other side has billionaires funding campaigns to scare the very people the Affordable Care Act would help.”
Sebelius, who recently left HHS and was replaced by Sylvia Burwell, echoed much of Obama's sentiments and said even before the first enrollment period began, the Affordable Care Act was under attack from conservative media and Congress.
She said that often meant members of Enroll America also became political targets.
“It was harder in states where you were facing unbelievable odds,” she said. “Political environments where people were working not only to push back on the law, but really intimidate you, push back on you, make it more difficult for you to do the very important jobs of getting information to people who desperately needed it.”
Sebelius again criticized governors who have refused to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare.
“It was heartbreaking for me to be in states where governors are still playing politics with Medicaid and having to tell someone you don't have enough resources to have affordable healthcare,” she said. “There is something so fundamentally wrong with that message … That is unacceptable.”