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Obama says rebranding Obamacare hard given rocky politics

A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October
A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama blamed Republicans on Tuesday for contributing to the troubled rollout of his signature healthcare insurance plan and said it will be hard to "rebrand" Obamacare after his administration fixes a website used to sign up for the program.

"We should have anticipated that that would create a rockier rollout," Obama told a Wall Street Journal conference.

"One of the problems we've had is one side of Capitol Hill is invested in failure," Obama said.

Obama said he thinks the website will be fixed on time for people to "catch up" and shop for insurance by key deadlines, which fall in December and March.

A key concern for the program's success is attracting enough young and healthy people - who often go without health insurance - to balance out the costs of providing insurance to older and sicker people, Obama said.

"We're going to have obviously remarket and rebrand, and that will be challenging in this political environment," Obama said.

Obama's comments came on a day when two committees of the U.S. House of Representatives held hearings focused on warnings about the website that the administration received in March and on data security concerns.

"If the president doesn't realize this disastrous rollout is solely the result of his administration's own failings, then he may never get this implementation figured out," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Republican Speaker John Boehner.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Steve Holland, Jeff Mason; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)

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