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Meeting with president set as prize in Obamacare sign-up push

- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 8, 2014

An advocacy group tied to President Obama is enticing volunteers to drum up last-minute enrollment in Obamacare by offering a free trip for two winners to Washington to meet the president.

Jim Messina, Mr. Obama's campaign manager in 2012, sent an email to millions of supporters Saturday urging people to volunteer to spread the word about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Recipients are directed to an online link to sign up for the six-week campaign conducted by Organizing for Action, the spinoff of the president's re-election team.

"Millions more need to get covered before this year's final deadline on March 31st — you probably know a few folks yourself," the website states.

To boost enrollment in Obamacare, OFA is dangling the offer to volunteers of free airfare to Washington and a free hotel stay, a package worth about $1,400, to meet Mr. Obama backstage at the group's national organizing summit on Feb. 25. Two winners will be chosen at random, the group said, and will be able to bring guests with them on the trip.

A disclaimer said the promotion is "open to all U.S. citizens, or lawful permanent U.S. residents who are legal residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia, and 18 or older."

The law requires most Americans to sign up for health insurance coverage by March 31 or face a penalty. But enrollment lagged after the program launched last Oct. 1, owing to errors on the Healthcare.gov website and other problems.

As of Jan. 24, the government said that more than 3 million people had enrolled for private health insurance through the ACA exchanges. The administration has set a goal of 7 million enrollees by the end of March.

The enrollment push comes just days after a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office raised new criticisms about the ACA, saying the program would create a disincentive for some Americans to work full time because its subsidies decrease as a worker's income rises.

Former presidential adviser David Plouffe said that over the next six weeks, OFA "will be working hard to make sure that Americans have the facts they need to get covered before the enrollment deadline just weeks away."

"If you've ever been part of the fight for health care reform, we need you for this final push for enrollment," Mr. Plouffe said in an email to supporters. "Even though the other side is spending an outrageous sum of money to confuse people trying to get health insurance, the data is clear: Real, one-on-one conversations are far more powerful than anything their money could buy."

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