- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 18, 2013

President Obama believes that moms know best, and he hopes they’ll use their influence in neighborhoods across the country to sell health-care reform to a skeptical public.

Mr. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama met with a group of eight mothers at the White House Wednesday, urging them to talk about Obamacare’s benefits “in the grocery store” and elsewhere in their day-to-day lives.

The meeting was the administration’s latest attempt to reshape the debate surrounding the law and to shift attention away from the faulty HealthCare.Gov website, rising insurance premiums, policy cancellation letters and other negative developments that have colored the public’s perception of the controversial law.

“Sometimes here in Washington, this is a very abstract conversation or an entirely political conversation. But when you boil it down to stories and people hear what it means to have the security of solid health insurance at an affordable price when you need it, it reminds me at least of why we’ve been fighting so hard to get this done,” the president said. “There’s something about moms. That, number one, they’ve got credibility generally; number two, women oftentimes are the ones who are making the health-care decisions of the family, number three, moms can tell young people think they’re invincible that they’re not and prod them to at least get information.”

In recent weeks, the White House has launched a full-blown public relations effort to combat negative news surrounding Obamacare.

But the administration also recognizes the public needs more than just reassurances from a president who has attached his name — and his legacy — to the law.

SEE ALSO: Obama appeals to moms for help with Obamacare

The eight mothers, and others across the country, Mr. Obama said, must join in the effort.

“Nothing can replace the story that [a mother] is telling in the grocery store to somebody who may be skeptical,” Mr. Obama said. “And that kind of face-to-face interaction makes this concrete and it describes exactly why this is so important.”

Specifically, the administration wants to reminds mothers and all Americans of the law’s benefits, including the fact that children now can stay on their parents’ insurance policy until they’re 26, that there no longer are lifetime caps on coverage and that more preventive care must be covered by insurers.

Those provisions have been in place for some time, though they’ve been overshadowed recently by the negative headlines around the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov and other troubles.

According to the White House, the eight mothers who attended the meeting were: Mary Todd Glascock of Virginia Beach, a Spanish teacher and single mom whose son has been diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma; Jeanne K. Wardford of Chevy Chase, a mother of two; Susan Heskins-Lazar, of Teaneck, N.J., a married mother of two, including a 23-year-old daughter whose recent gallbladder surgery was covered due to Obamacare; Janise Kyle of Arlington, who helped her 27-year-old nephew sign up for coverage on the troubled HealthCare.gov website; Mary Marker of Howard County, a volunteer with Enroll America and Organizing for Action; Neeta Datt of Montgomery County, a chapter leader with Organizing for Action; Felicia Willems of Raleigh, N.C., a volunteer with MomsRising who has “actively spread the word” about Obamacare; and Nicole Duritz of Alexandria, vice president of health and family for AARP’s education and outreach group.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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