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Dems tout 7 million Obamacare enrollees as GOP strategizes for fall election

News outlets report that the parties are wrestling with how to build on - or tear down - the success of the recent enrollment numbers. 

The Washington Post: Pelosi Suggests Gibbs's Obamacare Comments Are Due To His Business Ties
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested Sunday that former top Obama aide Robert Gibbs's comment that the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act won't survive might be related to Gibbs's business interests. ... "I don't think the employer mandate will go into effect," Gibbs said, according to BenefitsPro. ... [On Sunday,] Pelosi expressed exasperation that his comments would be given such prominence. "I don't know why we're focusing on that," she told CNN. "One person says one thing. Seven million people signed up" (Blake and O'Keefe, 4/6).

Politico Pro: GOP Keeps Its Focus After Obamacare Enrollment
[Republicans] doubt the accuracy of the big signup figures President Barack Obama announced in the Rose Garden this week but beyond that, they say they will keep targeting the weakest points in the law, through House votes, congressional hearings, oversight inquiries and campaign ads.  To avoid looking purely negative in an election year, there's a growing energy among members to present a list of positive health reform ideas they can take to voters, lobbyists and aides say. But there's no consensus yet on exactly how and when to roll out a plan — or the specifics it should contain  Haberkorn and Winfield Cunningham, 4/4).

The Associated Press: GOP Seeks Coverage Choices In Health Law They Hate
House Republicans quietly secured a recent change in President Barack Obama's health law to expand coverage choices, a striking, one-of-a-kind departure from dozens of high-decibel attempts to repeal or dismember it. Democrats describe the change involving small-business coverage options as a straightforward improvement of the type they are eager to make ... No member of the House GOP leadership has publicly hailed the fix, which was tucked, at Republicans' request, into legislation preventing a cut in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients (Espo, 4/6).

CBS News: How Should Democrats Deal With Obamacare 2014? 
Obamacare could be the deciding issue of the midterms if Democrats allow it to be, pollsters and strategists in both parties say. "I don't think 7 million is going to make anybody think twice about Obamacare," Neil Newhouse, a veteran Republican pollster who worked for Mitt Romney's campaign in 2012, told CBS News. ... Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, has broken with some in her party by saying that candidates should neither embrace Obamacare nor run away from it — Democrats should run on a promise to fix it" (Alemany, 4/5).

Politico: Obama's Challenge: Don't Blow It
President Barack Obama clocked a huge win by hitting his target 7 million Obamacare enrollment. Now he's faced with a tougher task: not blowing it. Obama's got a history of watching his victories slip away before fully capitalizing on them. ... all the good will he had coming out of the government shutdown was eclipsed by the devastating Healthcare.gov roll-out (Dovere, 4/6).

Meanwhile —

The Hill: Obama's New Healthcare Dilemma
Democrats are battling the White House over proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage, ... It's particularly sensitive during an election year, as both parties court senior voters, who make up a disproportionate percentage of the voting population in midterm elections. ... The program has been championed by Republicans as a private market alternative to Medicare. ... Support for the program is a reversal for many Democrats, who have historically lampooned the alternative to government health insurance as receiving outsized federal support in comparison to Medicare. ... The administration will announce 2015 rates for Medicare Advantage on Monday (Easley, 4/6).

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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