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Pre-existing conditions at forefront of White House's response to health care repeal

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Scott Anderson / Journal Times / AP

(Read caption) From left, Brian Rothgery, Kathy Laru, and Rachel Trobaugh demonstrate with local community groups outside the office of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) in Racine, Wisc., Jan. 18, to show their opposition to the possible repeal of health care reform. The White House has responded to the possible repeal with webcasts featuring the law's benefits for individuals who own small businesses or have pre-existing conditions.

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Today the Republican-led House is set to vote on repealing President Obama’s health care reform legislation. So how are White House officials responding, given that the original health care effort stands as Mr. Obama’s signature domestic effort?

They’re saying: “Hey gang, let’s put on a webcast!”

OK, that’s not entirely fair. Obama himself has been pretty tough, rhetorically-speaking, on the issue. “We can’t go backward,” he said yesterday in a statement about the repeal effort. “Americans deserve the freedom and security of knowing that insurance companies can’t deny, cap, or drop their coverage when they need it the most.”

But in general the problem for the administration is that it is defending a piece of legislation whose major provisions aren’t scheduled to take effect until 2014, and about which the US public remains confused.

So officials are using the classic approach of trying to personalize a complicated policy via individuals’ stories. They’ve been putting one per day up on the White House blog, complete with video of the people in question describing how the health reform bill has affected, or will affect, them.

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