By Mark Felsenthal
WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama launched a campaign to promote his signature healthcare program on Friday in the face of harsh criticism from congressional Republicans who say the plan will raise costs and hurt hiring.
Ahead of the Mothers' Day holiday on Sunday, the president focused his remarks on how the plan could benefit women, who the administration believes will be less stuck on partisan objections to the plan and provide support that will make what has become known as "Obamacare" as success.
"Mothers are the number one validator for the young and uninsured and will be critical in the effort to encourage their kids to enroll for insurance in the fall," a White House official said.
Republicans say the law will raise the costs of healthcare for all Americans, spawn a welter of new regulatory burdens on businesses and inhibit hiring.
"There are many women in their 20s and 30s who will be unable to afford the law's massive premium increases," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday. "And there are many mothers who won't be able to get by if their employers cut their hours due to Obamacare. Or if they lose their jobs because of it," the Kentucky Republican said.
However Obama aides plan to use the same micro-targeting strategies that helped the president win re-election in November to sign up enough enrollees. Their outreach efforts will be central to the success of Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which aims to bring health insurance at subsidized rates to millions of uninsured Americans.
Administration officials hope to sign up 7 million people nationwide during an enrollment period that begins Oct. 1 and runs through the end of March. They say they zeroing in on an estimated 2.7 million healthy 18-25 year-olds.
One out of every three of these people live in three states: California, Florida, and Texas, officials said. The administration plans try to go community by community to identify people who are eligible to try to persuade them to enroll in the insurance plan.
The White House on Thursday announced a $150 million initiative to fund the hiring and training of thousands of workers who will go through community health centers to help people obtain insurance.
But political resistance to the plan is high, and public opinion polls still show disapproval outweighing approval of the healthcare law.
The fate the of health plan is expected to have a major bearing on the 2014 midterm congressional elections. If Americans embrace Obamacare, Democrats could benefit, while rejection could provide an electoral boost to Republicans.
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Former President Theodore Roosevelt champions national health insurance as he unsuccessfully tries to ride his progressive Bull Moose Party back to the White House. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt favors creating national health insurance amid the Great Depression but decides to push for Social Security first. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Roosevelt establishes wage and price controls during World War II. Businesses can't attract workers with higher pay so they compete through added benefits, including health insurance, which grows into a workplace perk. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
President Harry Truman calls on Congress to create a national insurance program for those who pay voluntary fees. The American Medical Association denounces the idea as "socialized medicine" and it goes nowhere. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
John F. Kennedy makes health care a major campaign issue but as president can't get a plan for the elderly through Congress. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
President Lyndon B. Johnson's legendary arm-twisting and a Congress dominated by his fellow Democrats lead to creation of two landmark government health programs: Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
President Richard Nixon wants to require employers to cover their workers and create federal subsidies to help everyone else buy private insurance. The Watergate scandal intervenes. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
President Jimmy Carter pushes a mandatory national health plan, but economic recession helps push it aside. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
President Ronald Reagan signs COBRA, a requirement that employers let former workers stay on the company health plan for 18 months after leaving a job, with workers bearing the cost. (MIKE SARGENT/AFP/Getty Images)
Congress expands Medicare by adding a prescription drug benefit and catastrophic care coverage. It doesn't last long. Barraged by protests from older Americans upset about paying a tax to finance the additional coverage, Congress repeals the law the next year. (TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Bill Clinton puts first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in charge of developing what becomes a 1,300-page plan for universal coverage. It requires businesses to cover their workers and mandates that everyone have health insurance. The plan meets Republican opposition, divides Democrats and comes under a firestorm of lobbying from businesses and the health care industry. It dies in the Senate. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Clinton signs bipartisan legislation creating a state-federal program to provide coverage for millions of children in families of modest means whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid. (JAMAL A. WILSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President George W. Bush persuades Congress to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare in a major expansion of the program for older people. (STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Hillary Rodham Clinton promotes a sweeping health care plan in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. She loses to Obama, who has a less comprehensive plan. (PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress spend an intense year ironing out legislation to require most companies to cover their workers; mandate that everyone have coverage or pay a fine; require insurance companies to accept all comers, regardless of any pre-existing conditions; and assist people who can't afford insurance. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
With no Republican support, Congress passes the measure, designed to extend health care coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people. Republican opponents scorned the law as "Obamacare." (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
On a campaign tour in the Midwest, Obama himself embraces the term "Obamacare" and says the law shows "I do care." (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)