UPDATE 1-Officials say Obamacare website improves as Republicans pounce

Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:12pm EST
 
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(Adds Obama comments, paragraphs 4-5))

By David Morgan and Caren Bohan

WASHINGTON Nov 18 (Reuters) - The race intensified on Monday between Republicans trying to discredit President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law and officials trying to repair the flawed website crucial to the success of his policy reform.

While Obama administration officials said they had made significant improvements to HealthCare.gov, Republicans began appealing to the public on Monday for personal accounts of negative experiences with the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

The government has promised the site will be operating smoothly for the vast majority of users by Nov. 30, so that potentially millions of people can enroll by a Dec. 15 deadline for coverage that would begin on Jan. 1.

"Eventually it's going to be the easiest place to shop for healthcare," Obama told a call on Monday put together by Organizing for Action, the group that grew out of his 2012 re-election campaign..

Obama said the site was getting better every week, but urged supporters to help get people signed up for care by mail, phone, and in person as well.

Congressional aides say the strategy by Republicans in the House of Representatives is aimed at putting a more human aspect to opposition arguments that have been largely abstract up to now.

"Facing hardships as a result of Obamacare? We want to hear your story," said a message posted to the website of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a panel led by Republican Representative Fred Upton, whose bill to allow insurers to renew canceled insurance policies won approval on Friday from House lawmakers, including 39 Democrats.   Continued...