- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2013

President Obama is scheduled to thank directors of state-based insurance marketplaces on Wednesday “working on the front lines” of implementing his signature health care law.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Mr. Obama will video-conference with the directors to keep tabs on their progress in setting up the health exchanges, where qualified Americans without employer-based coverage may buy insurance through the help of government subsidies.

Open enrollment on the exchanges is scheduled to begin Oct. 1 for coverage that takes effect in January.

Mr. Obama is reaching out to the 16 states and District of Columbia that decided to set up the exchanges on their own instead of deciding to let the federal government do all or part of the task mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

The president recently praised these officials in his weekly address, arguing states that embraced the law are seeing positive results, such as lower-than-expected rate proposals from insurers.

Mr. Earnest also called attention to a recent survey that found the rate of increases to employer-based health costs is slowing and a separate study that showed job creation at small firms has surged in the last six months.

“This is another signal that economists say undercuts claims that the Affordable Care Act is having a negative impact on job growth, particularly among smaller businesses,” Mr. Earnest said. “In fact, some might even say that this is evidence that the Affordable Care Act is having a positive impact on small businesses, their bottom line and of course their employees, who will have access to health care coverage.

Republican critics of the law have lambasted it as a job killer, noting small businesses have trimmed payrolls or moved full-time workers to part-time status to avoid penalties associated with the law’s employer mandate, which the White House recently delayed to 2015.

They also say premiums will skyrocket in select states, while the Obama administration is highlighting states that release lower-than-usual premiums.

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