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. wjeffers@hcsmfish.org

    All this means is that 8 million people have registered to shop for healthcare. 8 million people have not paid for or been approved for healthcare. The President does not tell the truth.

    April 17, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. Lizzie

    All this says is there at least eight million fools in the country.
    - no it tells us that Americans follow and abide by the law.
    Great insurance though the exchange, pay $200 a month with a $12000 deductible.

    April 17, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    I would think most are all for helping people with cheaper insurance but how many have actually paid premiums? That's when we will know the real numbers. I put items in my shopping bag all day but rarely do I pull out the credit card.

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

    As they say, the devil is in the details. Obama will not let us see the details. No one seems to wonder why in the media.

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

    It's not working – I am paying $230 per month for a $6000 deductible that I will never use (I am healthly, exercise, don't smoke, drink, etc. Happy that I am subsidizing those who don't take care of themselves though (sarcasm).

    April 17, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. anthny76

    All this says is there at least eight million fools in the country.

    How so?
    Because 8 million people choose to take responsibility for themselves and get insured?
    Or do you consider the people who choose not to get insured "geniuses" because when they get sick they can pass the costs to the tax payers?

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

    Hmmmm. What happens if the 5 million Americans the GOP is denying Medicaid expansion show up to vote?

    April 17, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Tony D

    Democrats claimed there were 50 million people that didn't have health insurance in this country and thta was why we needed Obamacare. Well where are they? Based on this we now have 42 million healthcare criminals that don't have healthcare insurance. This is a 16% sign up rate, or stated more accurately, 84% of the people the Democrats claimed needed healthcare insurance have refusd to sign up.

    Well, I hope the thousands of IRS agents that were hired to enforce Obamacare are now tracking them down instead of being used to target and harass the Democrats political opponents.

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

    It is now official. Obamacare has turned out to be a full-fledged disaster for Republicans. Do Republicans have anything to run on this year?

    By the way, that is 8 million who signed up for PRIVATE insurance. Medicaid is not private insurance.

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

    8 million have signed up? But we're not allowed to see that source. No one is. Obama could say it's 60 million and there's no way to argue against the number. I certainly hope they're not cooking the books. It's hard to believe him with the dozens of major lies during his presidency. the American people are tired of the politics and lies that are associated with them.

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

    And all you had to do was kick people off of their existing insurance plans and threaten them with fines if they didn't sign up for yours!

    Way to go, Team!!

    April 17, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  12. Gunderson

    If you think Health Care is Expensive now, just wait until it's free. Without jobs who can afford it ?

    April 17, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  13. Bill inVA

    How many paid? Give us all the facts.

    April 17, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. texasnotea

    Hallelujah, Put your hand on the radio!!! Obamacare is a huge success and millions and millions of Americans now have affordable health insurance for the first time in their lives. Ain;t no stopping us now,were on the move.

    April 17, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. Stuffitu

    Sitting here listening to the most corrupt president in history telling me I am lying about my healthy insurance premium going up 177% and myco pays and deductibles doubling.

    April 17, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. sly

    Another tremendous success for President Obama – one of the best in US history.

    Up to 50 million people – many of them war veterans – will finally lift the Republican ban on health care!

    Thank you Mr. President – I am proud to be an American!

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

    How many already had insurance and were thrown off, how many paid, how many are on the federal Gov dime (YOU AND I) Oh yeah I thought we were after the *) MILLION without insurance-- Premimums going up, co pays and deductables no one can afford??? Yeah wanit until this bunch of low information voters start trying to use it let alone finding a doctor not educated under a palm tree.... Expectations are real low in this white house

    April 17, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. Brian

    Now 2 mil more to go to cover everyone who lost their insurance.

    April 17, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. devil's advocate

    Frank, yup, you were about to break the case, too funny based on other comments, doubtful we missed much. SMH.

    April 17, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. Abbey

    This coming from the 40 Acres and a Mule president.

    April 17, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Lizzie

    Let's wait till all those insured go to the doctor and hospital and then get the bill.

    April 17, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Silence DoGood

    No one will sign up.
    ...well no more than 1 million will sign up
    ...well no more than 2 million will sign up
    ...well no more than 3 million will sign up
    ...well no more than 4 million will sign up
    ...well no more than 5 million will sign up
    ...well no more than 6 million will sign up
    ...well no more than 7 million will sign up
    ...... hey how about that Benghazi??!!

    It is mandatory to sign up. Its not a choice. If you do not sign up you get fined. You act like people chose to do this on their own free will.

    April 17, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  23. Mathew

    I don't believe the ACA is perfect, but it is MUCH better than what we had before. Kudos to President Obama for getting the law passed and in place, after more than 40 years of inaction from both GOP and Democratic administrations.

    Now, let's work together to improve the healthcare system so that costs rise no faster than inflation, and getting sick or injured is no longer a threat to your life savings.

    April 17, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. Silence DoGood

    Anti-ACA conservative conspiracy lies:
    – it was passed without due process
    – hackers will steal your life savings through the web page (Fox)
    – Obama sabotaged the web page deliberately
    – Death Panels (Palin)
    – it will fail by itself
    – it will fail after rumors and scares
    – it will fail after the millions spent and hacker hours and rumors and scares
    – you will go to jail if you don't sign up (Paul)
    – reported security flaws
    – Hannity witnesses

    Time to switch conspiracy club to Birther or Benghazi.

    April 17, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. Miami Mike

    They would not provide accurate enrollment numbers for months after Obamacare was launched and now they are claiming over 8 million?

    I like my cooked numbers with a side of peas please.

    April 17, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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