WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to travel to Boston Wednesday to defend his mandatory health insurance program, a visit to the intellectual birthplace of the law as the White House attempts to recover from computer problems that have plagued the new marketplace website.
Obama will deliver remarks at Faneuil Hall, from the same spot where Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and Obama’s rival in the 2012 election, signed the Bay State’s landmark health care law in 2006.
“It is the Massachusetts experience that shows you what happens when people put politics aside and make sure that people are covered,” said David Simas, a White House deputy senior adviser who has overseen aspects of the health care rollout. “Faneuil Hall, and that historic setting, is a perfect backdrop to show Democrats and Republicans working together.”
Obama’s speech will come on the same day as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Obama will point to the success that Massachusetts has had in expanding health care insurance to nearly all of its residents. Obama is also expected to discuss some of the problems with HealthCare.gov, the insurance marketplace that was supposed to work like the Massachusetts Connector.
“Our focus 24/7 right now is just on fixing this website, throwing everything we have at it,” said Simas, who is a Taunton native and former aide to Governor Deval Patrick. “That’s what the president’s demanded, and that’s what’s happening.”
White House officials increasingly are citing the Massachusetts experience as an example of how consumers waited months before they enrolled in health care plans.
“When they began their open enrollment period, a grand total of 123 people signed up during the first month of open enrollment in Massachusetts,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Friday. “Obviously, the pace of enrollments increased dramatically as it got closer to the deadline. We expect to see a similar trend in those enrollment figures related to the Affordable Care Act.”
Administration officials expect to have the bugs cleared out of the system by the end of November. The enrollment deadline is March 31.
Obama’s trip to Boston is part of a broader push to bolster public opinion and encourage people to sign up.
White House and Cabinet officials are traveling to the 10 cities with the highest rates of uninsured. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is going to Atlanta on Tuesday, and Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, heads to Detroit Monday.
While in Boston, Obama will attend a fund-raiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which raises money for House campaigns around the country. The fund-raiser, which will also include House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, will be at the Weston home of Alan Solomont, Obama’s former ambassador to Spain.