Barack Obama

By Mark Felsenthal
WASHINGTON | Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:05am EDT

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama visits a local college on Thursday to promote his signature healthcare program as it nears a critical enrollment phase, even as the law faces stiff political opposition and a wary public.

In remarks at Prince George’s Community College in suburban Maryland, Obama will seek to focus attention on the sign-up period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, popularly called “Obamacare.” Starting on Tuesday, Americans who lack insurance will have six months to shop online for health coverage.

The administration’s goal is for the registration period to pull in 7 million uninsured people, including 2.7 million adults aged 18 to 35.

“President Obama will talk about a key cornerstone of what it means to be middle-class in America: having access to affordable healthcare that you can count on,” a White House official said. “The president will cut through all the noise coming out of Washington and speak directly, in plain and honest terms, about what the Affordable Care Act means for consumers.”

The president is also facing a Tuesday deadline for Congress to approve a federal budget and avoid a government shutdown and a mid-October date to raise the nation’s borrowing cap or face a default.

Republicans have sought to make cutbacks to the health law a condition for both steps, but the president has refused to allow Obamacare to be used as a bargaining chip in fiscal disputes.

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