Affordable Care Act Deadline Nears, Obama Urges People to Enroll

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President Obama marked four years on Sunday since he signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010, and urged people to enroll in the program as the March 31 deadline approaches.

The president celebrated the law's anniversary and urged people to sign up for coverage, which has come to be more commonly referred to as Obamacare, as the deadline to enroll approaches later this month. Individuals who are not enrolled in a health care program after March 31 will be fined.

President Obama said in a statement:

"Since I signed the Affordable Care Act into law, the share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth of health care costs is down, to its slowest rate in fifty years – two of the most promising developments for our middle class and our fiscal future in a long time."

Obama admitted the controversial program has been difficult to sell, even as the deadline approaches. In his statement, he promised to spend the next year with his administration making improvements.

"This is what’s at stake any time anyone, out of some outdated obsession, pledges to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act.  And that’s why my administration will spend the fifth year of this law and beyond working to implement and improve on it," said Obama.

Obama concluded by encouraging people to enroll.

"If you’re an American who wants to get covered – or if you know someone who should – it’s now last call for 2014.  March 31st is the deadline to get covered this year," Obama said.

The website had a hard time getting up and running, but the Department of Health and Human Services said a wave of people has enrolled in the last week, and enrollment recently passed the 5 million mark.

Officials have scaled back their original estimate of seven million enrolled to six million. According to recent enrollment figures released March 17, more than one million sign-ups were still necessary to reach the reduced goal by March 31.

There is a concern that there needs to be an increase in the number of customers ages 18-34 enrolled in the program, and the White House has in recent weeks been appealing to younger people through various media outlets. During the past month, Obama urged daytime viewers to sign up for coverage during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show from the White House.  The President also sat down in the Diplomatic Reception Room for separate interviews with comedian Zach Galifianakis and a health care expert from Web M.D., and dialed in to Rickey Smiley's hip hop radio show to appeal to listeners.

From January until the end of March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the site and administers the Affordable Care Act, will have spent $52 million on paid media, officials said.

You can read Obama's statement on the fourth anniversary of the Affordable Health Act here.

Image via Wikimedia Commons