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Obama rallies Obamacare troops at ‘critical time’ for program

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President Barack Obama on Thursday urged more than 25,000 volunteers and advocates who dialed in to a White House conference call to pull out the stops to boost the number of people signing up for Obamacare health insurance plans.

Obama warned it will be challenging to overcome the skepticism about the plans given an onslaught of headlines about surging premium prices, but he said the stakes are high.

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“I think we’re at a critical time where we have to show that this program works for people, if they just see what their options are,” he told the volunteers, who work in their communities to encourage and assist enrollment.

Americans who do not receive health insurance through their employer or through Medicare or Medicaid programs shop online for subsidized insurance plans starting Nov. 1 until the end of January.

The average premium for benchmark 2017 plans sold on healthcare.gov rose 25 percent compared with 2016.

Obama said tax credits will help more than seven in 10 shoppers get a plan for less than $75 per month, but said many may not bother looking because they have heard about spiking costs.

“We’re going to have to clear the bugs off the windshield so people can see the road ahead, and that’s where you guys come in,” Obama said.

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The law has been fought by Republicans in Congress, who said it creates unwarranted government intervention in personal healthcare and private industry.

Several big insurers, including UnitedHealth Group Inc , Aetna Inc and Humana Inc , are pulling out of the online marketplaces selling the subsidized plans, citing bigger-than-expected financial losses.

Aetna Chief Executive Mark Bertolini said on Thursday that the earliest his company may return to the marketplaces would be 2019.

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Obama said more young and healthy people need to sign up for plans. That would offset insurers’ costs of covering members with serious illnesses.

Obama has said there are a series of improvements that could be made to his signature domestic policy achievement – the 2010 Affordable Care Act – if Congress and the next president, who will take office on Jan. 20, can work together.

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“Part of what we can do this time is to overcome the skeptics, to prove people wrong, and to provide momentum so that when the next administration comes in, they are starting from a position of strength,” Obama told the conference call.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)


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Russia likely listened to Trump when he used unsecured phone to call Giuliani: security officials

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Russia likely learned of President Donald Trump’s Ukraine dealings months before they were exposed by a whistleblower report, because he used unsecured phone lines to speak with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, current and former officials told The Washington Post.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Phone records released in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report this week showed that Giuliani made multiple calls to a blocked number listed as “-1.” Though Trump is not identified by name in the records, investigators believe the number belongs to Trump, and administration officials confirmed that Trump spoke with Giuliani on unsecured lines.

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‘It’s only $4.99 per month’: Trump urges supporters to sign up for network that went to Ukraine with Giuliani

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President Donald Trump on Friday night urged his 67 million Twitter followers to pay for a monthly subscription to watch Facebook video from a far-right Fox News competitor.

Shortly after 10 p.m. eastern, the commander-in-chief retweeted a solicitation from the One America News network.

[caption id="attachment_1569174" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Screengrab of President Donald Trump's retweet of a One America News solicitation.[/caption]

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Maddow destroys ‘bad faith’ complaints about impeachment from Republican Trump supporters

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The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on Friday blasted "bad faith" arguments from Republicans about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Maddow recounted the process complaints by Republicans -- each of which has disappeared.

"After going through all of that, they now have unveiled a new objection as to why President Trump cannot actually be subject to this impeachment proceeding, a new noble stand they're taking for fairness and the American way -- they have rolled it out with our friends at the Fox News channel," Maddow said.

She played a clip of former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich on Fox News.

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