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Obama closes out the year on a low key

By JULIE PACE
December 31, 2013

President Barack Obama is seen through the window of his motorcade vehicle as he is driven through the Kailua, Hawaii, neighborhood where he is spending his annual holiday vacation with his family,. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama is seen through the window of his motorcade vehicle as he is driven through the Kailua, Hawaii, neighborhood where he is spending his annual holiday vacation with his family,. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama is closing out a difficult year in low-key fashion, with hopes for better results to come in 2014, particularly for his troubled health care law.

Obama kicked off the last day of 2013 with an hourlong workout at a military base near his rented vacation home in Hawaii. He and first lady Michelle Obama then headed to Hanauma Bay for a midday snorkeling outing on a sun-splashed day on the island of Oahu.

The White House said the president planned to stay at home Tuesday night and ring in the new year with friends and family.

The president has largely stayed out of the spotlight since arriving in Hawaii more than a week ago. He’s spent his days golfing with friends, hiking with his family, and hitting the town for dinner at several high-end restaurants he frequents while in his home state.

Behind the scenes, aides say Obama is receiving updates on the problematic rollout of his signature health care law. Insurance coverage is scheduled to start Jan. 1 for those who have enrolled since sign-ups opened at the beginning of October.

Widespread glitches on the HealthCare.gov website appear to be largely fixed and administration officials said Tuesday that more than 2 million people had enrolled in insurance through the exchanges. However, insurers say they are still receiving thousands of erroneous sign-ups from the government.

Aides say the president has also been reviewing a presidential panel’s recommendations for placing limits on the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Obama is not obligated to accept the panel’s recommendations and is expected to announce his decisions in January.

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Associated Press writer Stanley Lee contributed to this report.
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