April 17th, 2014
03:46 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama: Republicans 'were wrong' about Obamacare

(CNN) - President Barack Obama called on his fellow Democrats to "forcefully defend and be proud" of the fact that millions of people have signed up for health care insurance through the federal marketplaces, and faulted Republicans who are still angling to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

"I don't think we should apologize for it. I don't think we should be defensive about it. I think there is a strong, good, right story to tell," Obama said Thursday during a rare appearance at the daily White House news conference.

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Obama announced that the number of people who have signed up for private insurance through the marketplaces has grown to 8 million. About 35% of those people are under the age of 35, he added. That number is slightly less than the 40% that the White House and independent experts originally forecast for the system to work successfully, but it's higher than numbers released earlier this year.

Obama said the law is "now covering more people at less cost than most would have predicted just a few months ago" and criticized its opponents.

"I find it strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it has always been. They still can't bring themselves to admit that the Affordable Care Act is working," the President said.

"They said nobody would sign up; they were wrong about that," he continued. "They said it would be unaffordable for the country; they were wrong about that.

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The President said the political bickering will still likely continue through at least the November midterm elections, "because it seems as if this is the primary agenda item in the Republican political platform."

His comments marked a strong contrast to the tone he took last November as his administration was trying to smooth over the rocky rollout of the federal website, as well as a broken promise that anyone who liked their insurance would be able to keep it under the new law.

Vulnerable Democrats have since tried to place distance between themselves and the health care law, an outcome Obama somewhat anticipated last fall.

"There is no doubt that our failure to roll out the ACA smoothly has put a burden on Democrats, whether they're running or not, because they stood up and supported this effort through thick and thin," the President said at a press briefing.

The President added that he felt "deeply responsible for making it harder for them rather than easier for them."

But after the administration ended up exceeding its original goal of 7 million sign-ups by the end of March, the President and the White House have not been shy in celebrating a victory.

"This thing is working," Obama said Thursday.

"If Republicans want to spend all their time talking about repealing a law that's working, that's their business," he added.

He also chided states that have refused to accept Medicaid expansion, a provision in the health care law that would give states federal dollars to increase the amount of people who could qualify for the program. Nearly half the states-all with Republican governors-have declined to accept the program, while a few states are still considering it.

Obama argued governors and state legislatures have chosen not to expand Medicaid "for no other reason than political spite."

CNN's Dana Ford contributed to this report.

Filed under: Obamacare • President Obama
soundoff (278 Responses)
  1. Get Real

    @wes....Heath insurance helps you GET heathcare.

    Only after you pay the $2,000/year premiiums and then the $12,000 deductible and then 50 miles to the one doctor in the plan, after waiting 6 months.

    April 17, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  2. empathy4us

    New studies show that the US healthcare system prior to ACA was actually not the best in the world (several quality indicators prove this point). Not only that, but we were also paying more, per patient, than any nation on earth. So, now ACA comes along and we have more folks with insurance, the increase is medical costs is at its lowest level in 50 years and we will surely see better outcomes as the uninsured will not get treatment well before they are truly sick or in need of more intervention. Lastly, initial estimates by the health care companies suggest that premium increases will be at the same rate as what we have seen prior to ACA. So, its working exactly as intended.

    April 17, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. Brian

    Let the public see ALL the data! including how many have paid and a complete demographic breakdown on those who have paid.

    April 17, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "@Tampa Tim You forgot the magic word. BENGHAZIIII!!!!"


    April 17, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. JustAnotherComment

    Unfortunately, the states receiving extra funding now to expand Medicaid will lose that same funding in a couple of years. Did he happen to mention that nifty piece of information??

    April 17, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. Jim

    I tried to sign up, but the website issues still weren't fixed by 4/15, at least not for me. The representative couldn't locate my account, which had been locked or disabled, and she seemed clueless about any sort of next step to resolve the issue.

    April 17, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. OldSchool

    Good job Mr. President, I myself am one of those 8 million. I was unable to afford the (not very good) insurance offered by my company, now I have health insurance. I am not alone in benefiting from this legislation, even among those I know personally – a friend of mine received a refund check from his insurer since they are now only allowed to gouge people up to a certain limit...

    April 17, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. smmuthe

    Its funny how the repugnuts agreed with the "low" numbers during the rollout, now the numbers are "high" they accuse democrats of cooking the books. Kinda like Romenys poll number were "close" to Obamas, the election was over in 30 minutes. Keep picking and choosing the numbers you want to believe in.

    April 17, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. Name

    You republicans can't have it both ways.... Sore Losers hate to admit when they got their butts handed to them... Again!!

    April 17, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. Steve

    Did I say 8 Million, I meant 9...no 12....no 400 Million, yeah, that's it. 500 Million happy customers.

    April 17, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Before it was me, my employer and the healthcare company."

    Before it was me, my employer and the healthcare company and hundreds of state and federal laws regarding insurance and the practice of medicine and the research and development and pricing of pharmaceuticals and medical devices and experimental treatment and nursing homes and accreditation standards for medical and nursing schools....etc.etc.etc.


    Acting like this is some unprecedented never-before-seen incursion into medical and insurance industries that had nothing to do with federal regulation prior to the ACA is just plain old ridiculous. It's not...not even remotely.

    April 17, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. real news

    so they hit 8 million huh? πŸ™‚

    how many have paid? How many of this supposed 8 million had insurance before? How many of the countries 30 million uninsured prior to the bill now are covered? How many between 27-35 have signed up and paid?

    when CNN feels the professional ethics to dig down on these UNANSWERED questions, maybe then I will trust the numbers just a weeeee bit more.

    wow...stunning how cnn just wants to parrot whatever this white house tells them. Now that's proper journalism eh? .

    April 17, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  13. kyle

    I'm pretty moderate politically speaking, and supported Obama most of the time, and I think its clear this guy is full of it. The conversations I use to participate in use to be about how POTUS can get the US on top again, so other countries could look up to us and want to be like us. Now its evident we are falling apart as a country, and quite honestly nobody wants to be like us anymore. Our policies suck, both domestic and foreign, healthcare sucks, economy sucks, congress stinks, middle class falling apart, and then Obama comes out to a new conference like this and keeps selling us BS, its unreal!!! its not like we are freaking stupid and can see what happening. I hope nobody is buying it anymore. If I don't buy it after being a committed Obama supporter, I hope you aren't either. It's so good to see that even the liberals are waking up and realizing things aren't as promised in 2008

    April 17, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  14. hmmmmm

    Sure it did

    April 17, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. RomneyWho

    The Republicans are forever on the wrong side of history! πŸ™

    April 17, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  16. Bassmaster

    Who among you pays for all of your insurance annually up front? I don't so I guess that means my insurance company can't count me until the last pay period of the year based on a lot of this logic.
    Isn't there more important things to worry about like finding his brith certificate or defending right wing groups pretending to be non profits and evading taxes?

    April 17, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. Vijay

    Hooray!!!!!! GOP will be killed this fall for their spouting lies about Obama care.... Kudos Obama....

    April 17, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. CJ

    How many have lost their policies? How many who lost signed up in the exchange? What is the net change in total insureds in the US? How many of the 48M have paid for policies?
    Don't even pretend to pronounce that the policy works when people with chronic and complex medical issues have lost their coverage because it did not include contraception. Millions are suffering and are worse off right now because of this policy. Keep cheering it on, but you miss the larger point that more are worse off than are better off due to this policy.

    April 17, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Steve

    His number is bogus. If you take away those that had to enroll because their current policy was cancelled the enrollment number would be far less than he quotes. With unpaid policies , the number gets even worse.

    Obama is going as much spin as possible to save the senate

    April 17, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. sly

    Affordable Health Care is working!

    8 million today.
    50 million next year!

    Good times for America. Thank you President Obama.

    April 17, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. Don1959

    I cannot understand why people against the ACA, fall so easily into the web of misinformation; some of you sound so politically and morally stupid that it’s near humorous at times. It is a sad day when people allow themselves to be brainwashed by a group of vengeful, hateful and hypocritical news reporters to the point that they refuse to recognize what's good for so many Americans.

    April 17, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. Zeke

    It could be a step in the right direction except the sign ups did not target the uninsured. They were window dressing to sell the ACA. It was said by Obama over and over again it is terrible in our country we have so many uninsured. The thrust by Obama was to sign up the high payers to pay for the program and they are not signing up in the required numbers. Now the sleaze factor hits when it was announced that the US Census forms would be altered to prevent criticism of Obamacare. We went through the lying period by Obama on doctors and keep our plans, and now we are entering the sleaze factor where Obama manipulates the ACA itself with 32 changes (many of which were proposed by
    Republicans just before the roll out but rejected by Senate Democrats). The Census change is a real beauty.

    April 17, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  23. M Gonzales

    We will know if it's working in a few weeks when the Insurance companies come out with their earnings reports such as blue cross. If our premiums go down or dont move it's working. If they shoot up its not working. Everything else does not matter.

    April 17, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "Of those 7 million, I'm assuming that at least 90% of them already had coverage prior to the ACA."

    Having fun moving those goal posts?

    Having trouble with pesky data contrary to what you predicted? Evidence got you down? Numbers turning out to be just plain inconvenient by disproving things you've said? Have no fear!!!! Try the new and improved ASSUME AWAY....makes all that data, evidence and numbers go away like they never existed!!!! Now with 20% more confirmation bias!!!!

    April 17, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  25. greasemonkey

    Am I the only one who has noticed that the only people who are angry about Obamacare are the ones who hated him since the day he took office?

    .....the GOP seems to be counting on a massive public backlash......but it just isn't materializing......

    April 17, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
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