"This task is especially challenging in the great Lone Star State," Obama told the crowd. "There's no state that actually needs this more than Texas."

In a statement, Perry accused the president of coming to Texas "in a desperate attempt to salvage his ill-conceived and unpopular program from a Titanic fate by preaching expansion of the same Medicaid system he himself admits is broken."

Earlier in the day, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the Senate Finance Committee, where even Democratic champions of the healthcare law were upset by the administration's past failure to keep them informed of potential problems.

"You've got to tell us what's going on candidly, fully," said Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the committee and a chief architect of the law. "The more you don't tell us, the greater the problem is going to be."

christi.parsons@latimes.com

Twitter: @cparsons

lisa.mascaro@latimes.com

Twitter: @lisamascaroinDC

michael.memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @mikememoli