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. JJR

    And how many are paid?

    April 17, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. MaryM

    Yep and in the years to come, All Americans will have Health Insurance. There is No More being denied because you might have a pre existing condition. Like the rest of the Civilized World

    April 17, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. AUSTaxpayer

    Hey, only 322 Million to go!

    April 17, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. SteveInMN

    Hark1 What ho? Is that the sweet sound of HARDLINE RIGHT WINGWACKS WEEPING?

    Why, me thinks it IS!!!!

    GO BAMA! GO BAMA! GO BAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 17, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |

    there is absolutely no valid reason for the CNN moderators to censor my comments...unless of course CNN just doesn't want their readers to know the truth....

    April 17, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. Abbey

    Wink wink...........can I have 9 million? lol

    April 17, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. Margaret Canfield

    Meanwhile 7 million lost their insurance due to Obamacare...

    April 17, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. Abbey

    Dems/IRS seem to be quite pleased at threatening million of Americans to do as they say.

    April 17, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  9. Michael Ng

    Eight million signed up and out of that 5 million unhappy about it. Not to mention 10s of millions of people paying more regardless of what he says. My premiums are the same while my deductible is more than 10x what it was and my out of pocket is about 50% higher. So I guess I am saying Don't get sick!

    April 17, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. Sam

    The ACA is working. It's time that the Republicans admit that and stop the constant lying.

    April 17, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Dutch Riggins

    Let's see, between November, 2013 and April 19, 2014 (6 months): 7 million enrollees. Now in the past week another 1 million! At this rate we should be able to sign up the entire planet by the end of the year! Does anyone actually believe this man? If so, how many of those "8 million" are new enrollees and how many are people like me–forced to sign up because my policy was cancelled by Obamacare? Was my previous plan a good one? It must have been, because today I have the same plan with the same insurer, except I now pay $465.00 a month more for it (and higher deductibles, too). My rate went from $701.00 to $1165.60 per month.

    April 17, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. OhioMade

    Everyday the GOP becomes more irrelevant–ask any young person.

    April 17, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. Jermaine Brown

    When you throw 6 million people off their current plans and you cite 8 million as signing up what have you really accomplished? Get a life man!

    April 17, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  14. NOPhah Kingweigh

    And cue the G(uns) O(ver) P(eople) fanatics raging against health care for poor people in 3, 2, ...

    April 17, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. devil's advocate

    Very telling indeed Mr.president.

    April 17, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. flex

    your the fool for not TAKING ADVANTAGE OF Obamacare....Fool!

    April 17, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. M Gonzales

    5-6 Million people lose their heallth plans and around 8 million "Sign" up and it's a win? By my math thats only around 2-3 million NEW customers and the Insurance company's are going to see it that way too. I want to see numbers, real numbers not smiling politicians. How many are paying their dues? How many are young and healthy? How many paying custmors have been added over all in america? I WANT my insurance around the cost of a phone bill like Obama promised NOT for it to go up in cost.

    April 17, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. Andrew

    I'd like to know how it is covering more people at less cost. The cannot count the people that got kicked off their insurance or doesn't pay for it. My insurance would more then double in cost with a plan that covers less. Also, its funny how it jumped by a million after the markets have closed and you can't even look at plans.

    April 17, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. critical thinking

    If the act canceled more insured policies his number would be even higher. Subtract the 5.2MM canceled policies that had to switch and sign up, subtract the 2MM Medicad enrollees and look it adds up to slightly less than 8MM people. Almost 1MM new insureds have signed up at a cost of $660 million dollars. What an accomplishment Mr. President, Bravo.

    April 17, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  20. flex

    Republicans can't Handle the Truth! it's WORKING & people now have health Insurance!

    April 17, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Excellent news!

    April 17, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  22. MilitaryAF

    I think it's great that people are signing up. The BIG problem with this entire system is that private insurance companies are making bank on it. ACA should NOT go away, because people are at least able to get health insurance. The way the ACA works has effectively established a health-insurance monopoly. Implemented correctly the ACA would be like other universal health-care programs offered in Canada & European countries. Funds could be 'invested' with private ensurers, however the government would closely control prices for premiums, remove 'deductibles', and establish price-controls for medical procedures and medications.

    April 17, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  23. Dave

    Republicans, you should have passed this law yourself. Looks like one of your ideas finally worked!

    April 17, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. Cer

    In WA state very few are paying, rest are on Apple Health. So do not believe this program is going to work unless more are paying up. Also just wait until the penalties start next year which will affect a lot of us. It should be called the Unaffordable Act as far as I am concerned. Was wanting to sign up until I found out the truth was a lie. So unless some changes are made to make it more fair, I cannot join. The workers who are supporting America deserve better and should be first in line as we are not sitting around. I know some people who are cheating the system to qualify. No wonder they have a better life than some of us who are honest and work hard.

    April 17, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  25. kns

    Its working
    Its working
    its working

    sshhhhhh, republicans, it's working.

    April 17, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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