- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

As health care deadline nears, White House and allies scramble to enroll the young and healthy

WASHINGTON (AP) - “Do you guys have health insurance?” David Bransfield asks each time a group of backpack-toting college students passes by.

Some nod yes. A few promise to stop back after class. Others don’t bother removing their headphones.

Nearly every day, Bransfield comes to a satellite campus of the University of the District of Columbia in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, sitting for hours behind a table in the lobby of a classroom building. Armed with an Apple laptop and a pile of fliers, he’s part of the army of workers and volunteers fanned out around the country trying to enroll young - and probably healthy - people in health insurance available through President Barack Obama’s signature law.

Run largely by groups with close ties to the White House, the on-the-ground recruiting effort is based in part on lessons learned from Obama’s two presidential bids, which revolutionized the way campaigns tracked and targeted voters.

“On the campaign, you want to be able to find an Obama voter and you want to get them to vote,” said Matt Saniie, who worked on the 2012 campaign’s data team and is now analytics director at the organization Enroll America. “In the enrollment world, you want to find someone who is uninsured and you want to get them to enroll.”


Amid fears of an economic slowdown, US jobs report for January might be hard to interpret

WASHINGTON (AP) - One of the most highly anticipated U.S. jobs reports in months might also prove to be among the most puzzling.

Friday’s report on hiring during January follows signs of economic weakness in the United States and overseas that have sent stock prices sinking. Upheaval in developing countries has further spooked investors. All the turmoil has renewed doubts about the Federal Reserve’s next steps.

Solid job gains and a healthy decline in the unemployment rate could reverse much of the pessimism. They would suggest that recent reports of tepid job growth and other economic weakness were merely temporary. Dismal hiring, though, would inflame fears that the U.S. economy has begun to falter.

Several factors could muddy the results. Unseasonably cold winter weather could distort January’s hiring figures. Revisions to last year’s job growth and U.S. population figures might further skew the data.

Finally, a cutoff of extended unemployment benefits in December might have caused an artificial drop in January’s unemployment rate. That could give a misleading snapshot of the job market’s health.


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