White House turns to star power for ObamaCare boost

The White House is turning to local politicians and celebrities Wednesday to promote the second day that uninsured Americans can purchase coverage on the ObamaCare exchanges, following a launch that featured intense interest — and serious technical glitches.

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According to the White House, community leaders, artists and mayors will use the hashtag #GetCovered on social media to promote the exchanges.

The administration has created a centralized page where allies can download Twitter and Facebook icons and backgrounds to spread the word about the law.

Celebrities including singer John Legend, rock band Pearl Jam, and actresses Alyssa Milano and Kerry Washington were among the entertainers that had already used the hashtag to promote the exchanges.

The campaign follows Tuesday's launch of the health care exchanges, which saw many would-be applicants frustrated by glitches and errors in the online enrollment system.

Several state-based exchanges were inaccessible throughout the day, with pages loading slowly and frequently kicking users out of the enrollment portals.

The White House said that the problems were the result of overwhelming demand for ObamaCare coverage.

"That gives you a sense of how important this is to millions of Americans around the country and that’s a good thing," Obama said in an address from the Rose Garden on Tuesday.

Republicans, however, said the rocky start was evidence ObamaCare was not ready for prime time.

These ‘glitches,’ which the president is trying to brush off, reveal how totally unprepared the government is for this launch,” House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a statement. “The American people deserve better than this train wreck of a law, whose own champions have resorted to tamping down expectations while refusing to consider alternatives.”

According to a White House official, seven times as many people visited HealthCare.gov yesterday as ever concurrently visited Medicare's online website.

Some 2.8 million people visited the website in its first 15 hours of operation, with 60,000 requesting more information via a live web chat and 81,000 calling a toll-free number.

Uninsured Americans will be able to enroll in insurance provided by the exchanges through March, but those who sign up before Dec. 15 will receive coverage as early as New Year's Day.

The administration says that signing up large numbers of uninsured Americans will be essential to the long-term viability of the health care reform effort.

"There is no question that it is important to the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act and to having it work in a way that allows for those with preexisting conditions never to be denied coverage, that younger, healthier Americans have insurance," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.