"We are going to be ready on Oct. 1," Cohen replied. "We are not moving that deadline. Oct. 1 is coming and we will be open for business. The important thing is the context. Oct. 1 being open for business [means] it is the first time that folks will largely be seeing a lot of the plans in their states, their rates, and they really need to think through those options and that is why this enrollment period is six months long. It is not Election Day on Oct. 1. It is just a beginning."
The webcast, however, clearly provided a public platform for the nation's three largest hospital associations to reaffirm their unified support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the face of withering and relentless criticism that appears to be sapping public support.
A Pew Research poll released Monday found that 53% of Americans disapprove of the PPACA. The same poll also found that only 25% of respondents said they understood how the law will affect them.
"People will only enroll if they know that this coverage is available and if they understand how to access these new coverage options," Umbdenstock said. "That is where we can help. It is critical that community stakeholders, certainly hospitals, faith groups, civic organizations and others come together to help make the enrollment process straight forward and widely available."
Keehan called access to healthcare "a matter of human dignity" and said hospitals will play a vital role "as a credible source of information in our communities." Keehan encouraged hospital administrators to "watch closely what is happening in your state with regard to marketplaces and Medicaid expansion."