Obama to rally healthcare backers at OFA summit

Obama to rally healthcare backers at OFA summit
© Anne Wernikoff

President Obama will appear Monday at a healthcare summit run by the group formed from his former reelection campaign, according to White House and Organizing For Action officials.

The president is expected to speak at an event designed to rally grassroots supporters to help the administration's push to get uninsured consumers to purchase healthcare plans available under ObamaCare. 

The announcement of Obama's attendance at the conference comes on the heels of White House press secretary Jay Carney conceding that early enrollments in the healthcare exchanges would be low, partially due to continued technical problems with the ObamaCare website.

"We concede that they will be [low]," Carney said Friday. "We said that even before Oct. 1, before we had the trouble with the website because that is how enrollment works."

The White House has said it hopes to make up for disappointing early numbers with a late surge of enrollees.

Obama will also attend a "working dinner" with top OFA donors, campaign alumni, staff, and representatives from other top liberal organizations — including Planned Parenthood, AFSCME, SEIU and the Center for American Progress.

OFA described the summit as "an opportunity to hear from groups and individuals about the excitement they are seeing around ObamaCare and the importance of the six-month period when so many will sign up for affordable healthcare" in a release on Friday.

Earlier in the day, the organization launched a new initiative urging parents and grandparents who supported the president to push their younger relatives to sign up for ObamaCare during holiday gatherings.

"This campaign focuses on encouraging parents and grandparents to talk to the young adults in their lives about the importance of signing up for health coverage," Organizing for Action said in a statement.

As part of the effort, the group launched a new website and YouTube video on Friday encouraging supporters to “think about how you’ll bring it up” to family members. The page includes "conversation tips" and a "packing list" of information individuals need to sign up for insurance.

Obama's attendance at the event will doubtlessly again raise questions about the president's relationship with OFA. Watchdog groups and Republicans have accused the White House of selling access to the White House through the outside group, which accepts unlimited campaign donations.

OFA officials have deflected the criticism, arguing that nobody is guaranteed an audience with the president and noting that the group discloses its donors even though it is not required to do so by law.