President Obama will deliver his sixth State of the Union address on Jan. 28. Over the next week, The Fix is previewing Obama's major themes and challenges in the speech, focusing on one issue a day leading up to Tuesday's address. First up is health care.
When President Obama brings up health care during his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, he will make one issue clear (yet) again: He will defend the Affordable Care Act against any and all political attacks this year.
Unlike some other initiatives such as immigration, Obama will not ask Congress for anything, focusing instead on the law's ongoing implementation as the top priority. While the Oct. 1 botched rollout of Healthcare.gov represented a significant blow to both the White House and Democrats more broadly (especially those on the ballot this November), the high-profile speech gives Obama the chance to tout the law's benefits and shore up the political fortunes of the men and women who backed it.
Obama is likely to highlight the fact that more than 2.1 million Americans already have enrolled in state and federal marketplaces, as well as the expanded coverage they have now because of the law's new requirements.
But congressional Republicans, who plan to make the law a central issue in the midterm election, will be sending a message of their own as Obama addresses the chamber. At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last week, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) trumpeted the fact that previously-uninsured Americans such as 28-year old student Emily Wright, who delivers pizzas in Johnson City, Tenn., can now make appointments with several specialists she needs to see. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) will bring a different Emily-- from Pulaski, Tenn.--as her guest to the State of the Union.
"Emily had coverage because Emily has lupus. And guess what? Under "Obamacare", her plan was cancelled. Emily doesn't have health insurance right now. She's having a tough time getting it under 'Obamacare,'" Blackburn said. "Maybe you can help Emily work this out, Mr. Cohen, because your promises that were made by you and this administration have not been kept."
Not to be outdone, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.) will also bring a guest who has experienced problems under the law: Chad Henderson, a young man who thought he and his father had signed up, only to find out they weren't enrolled.
Lena Sun contributed to this report.