"We need to continue to focus on the strong elements of the bill," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "It's very clear it's taken some time to focus on the consumer rights and patient protections."
Among benefits taking effect this week:
—Young adults can remain on their family's health plan until they turn 26.
—Free immunizations for kids.
—Free preventive care, like mammograms and cholesterol screenings.
—No more lifetime coverage limits, and annual limits start to phase out.
—Plans can't cancel coverage for people who get sick.
—No denial of coverage to kids with pre-existing health conditions.
Most of the big changes, such as the new purchasing pools and requirement for everyone to carry insurance, don't kick in until 2014, but Democrats hope that the more voters learn of the benefits, the more they'll like the bill.
Ultimately, Democrats argue, health care will be a political winner.
Just maybe not this year.
"I think most of my colleagues on our side of the aisle, whether they voice it publicly or not, certainly see the health care vote as a historic vote and something that will be seen in the future as a courageous and correct vote," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. "That doesn't mean it will be rewarded in this cycle. And that's the pain of this situation."
- Read more about healthcare reform.
- See our slideshow: 10 Winners in the Healthcare Debate.
- See who is giving money to your member of Congress.