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How do you make people like Obamacare? A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presentation offers a model.
How do you make people like Obamacare?
The question is crucial to President Barack Obama's re-election prospects. Obama expended a lot of political capital to get the sweeping health care overhaul through Congress, but polls show that a large segment of the American public is somewhere between disapproving and ambivalent. Republicans have lambasted the law as a defining symbol of a bloated, overreaching federal government, and opposition to the bill played a key role in galvanizing the Tea Party movement in 2010.
While the mandate requiring everyone to have health insurance remains deeply controversial -- the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently heard arguments on whether the provision is constitutional, could yet strike it down -- the administration has tried to appeal to voters by highlighting the more popular pieces of the law.
A slideshow obtained by BuzzFeed offers a blueprint for selling the law. According to BuzzFeed, the Department of Health and Human Services uses the document as a rubric for convincing people of the law's merits. It is organized into four central points: protection from insurance company exploitation, making health care affordable, expanding access and bolstering Medicare.
"The first question most people have is why did we need the health care law?" the document says. "The answer is that we had a health insurance market that worked very well for big insurance companies, but no so well for American families."
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The presentation emphasizes that, prior to the Affordable Care and Coverage Act, insurance companies could deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or cap premiums so the chronically sick don't get care. It notes that premiums have climbed even as insurance industry profits have risen steadily and points out that tens of millions of Americans were uninsured.
"This left many Americans feeling like their health care choices were out of their hands," the presentation says.
Also included in the presentation are the law's efforts to make health care more affordable by requiring insurers to pay at least 80 percent of premiums on services and justify steep rate increases; a provision allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26; measures to expand preventitive care and access to Medicaid; and measures to strengthen Medicare.
The document seeks to rebut some common criticisms of the law, noting that it gives states flexibility in setting up public health insurance exchanges (numerous Republican states have declined to start implementing those exchanges, waiting instead to see if the law is upheld) and citing a Congressional Budget Office finding the law would not add to the deficit.
"This law is not a radical overhaul," the slideshow says. "It makes improvements to the private health insurance system we already have."
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