Obama defends health law as Democrats fret over 2014 elections

President Obama on Friday sought to quell Democratic worries and public misconceptions about his healthcare law, months before its biggest provisions are set to take effect.

Members of Obama's own party have relentlessly criticized the administration for not doing enough to sell the public on ObamaCare, especially as new coverage options are about to come online. Some Democrats fear a rough rollout could cost them in the 2014 midterms.

"Undoubtedly, there will be some mistakes and hiccups" as major pieces of the law fall into place later this year, Obama said Friday.

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But he said the law's supporters "have an obligation to now make sure that full implementation moves forward the way it needs to."

Most of the law's biggest provisions will take effect between Oct. 1 and Jan. 1, 2014.

"I'm here to tell you, I am 110 percent committed to getting it done right," Obama said.

Public polling shows the healthcare law remains unpopular — just 35 percent of those polled in the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll said they have a favorable opinion of the law, while 40 percent had an unfavorable view.

That's a major concern for Democrats ahead of a midterm election that historically goes against the president's party. Republicans are hoping to add to their advantage in the House, and to retake the Senate. 

Obama, for his part, is hoping to buck history. If Republicans gain congressional seats next year, his years as a lame-duck president are likely to begin immediately. But by gaining seats — and especially by winning back the House — Obama could give himself a chance to add to his record in the last two years of his term.

A senior administration official downplayed the bad polling Friday, saying reactions to the health law break along partisan lines and that internal polls look slightly better for the White House.

Still, just as troubling for the administration as negative public opinion is deep public misunderstanding — in the latest Kaiser poll, nearly 40 percent didn't even know the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land. Many of those people think the law was repealed or struck down.

Obama on Friday ran through a laundry list of popular provisions, such as allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance plans through age 26 and requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

He also pleaded with the public to get actual information about the law. Polls show many voters believe the law includes certain policies that, in reality, it does not.

"Don't let 'em run the okie-doke on you. Don't be bamboozled," Obama said.

He acknowledged that Republicans will continue to fight the law — the House is expected to vote next week on yet another bill to repeal the entire law, following pressure from conservatives who did not want to be seen as "fixing" any problematic provisions.

"They're still telling tall tales about its impact … that misinformation will continue, at least through the next Election Day," Obama said of the law's critics.

That's exactly Democrats' concern — that a barrage of negative publicity, combined with a bumpy rollout of the law's signature provisions, could make Election Day 2014 a repeat of 2010.

The administration official said the 2014 midterms will focus on the economy, not healthcare, and said healthcare is not a winning issue for the GOP. It failed to help Republican win Senate seats, or the White House, in 2014.

— Amie Parnes contributed