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. Jerry

    Another Government controlled fickle math job to get to these numbers. Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors....

    April 17, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. Silence DoGood

    Anti-ACA 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

    April 17, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Michael

    People are so gullible! First of all, 8 million sounds great on the outside for somebody with half a brain that takes things at face value. What I want to know is how many of those 8 million people who "enrolled" when on to actually send in their initial premium payment to make the policy go into force? I want to know how many of those 8 million people already had health insurance and were kicked off of that plan and was forced to sign up for new insurance or they would be left without insurance and on top of that be forced to pay a penalty to go without it? I want to know how many people that didn't qualify for a subsidy were forced to sign up, that are struggling with their new premium rates being higher than they were in the past?

    I love the government...lol...let's create a law forcing people to get insurance or pay penalties and then pat ourselves on the back when people sign up. That's like me telling someone to give me their money at gu-npoint and then patting myself on the back, when they give me the money. Most Americans are law abiding citizens and are going to try to obey the law of the land and if the law of the land is you are required to have health insurance or pay a penalty in addition to not being covered if something happens, they are going to choose the former.

    This is not a win for the administration. Especially when there are 50 + million people who were uninsured before the law was past and only 8 million people signed up (and it is fair to say that at least some, if not half or more of those who signed up already had insurance prior to the law.) For the sake of argument, though, let's assume that all 8 million people were uninsured before signing up, then that is only about 6% of the uninsured who got coverage. That is best case scenario and the likelihood that it is less is high. The last question I would have is of those 8 million people who signed up, how many are healthy? I don't know why half of this country seems to think money grows on trees, but it does not. Nothing in life is free, ever!! Even if you get it free, someone else has to pay for it! I was taught from the time I was a child that money does not grow on trees and that I need to work, take responsibility for my actions, my successes and failures. It is going to require a lot of healthy people to have insurance to make up the difference in claims for the sick. Hospital bills are expensive, regardless if the patient or the insurance company is paying it. A one week hospital stay can rack up over $20,000 (this is a low estimate once you factor the hospital bill, the doctor bills, the lab techinican bills, the radiologist bills and the list could go on). Chances are just one of those instances occuring in a year, will wipe out that person's premium for that year + dip into someone else's.

    Now, before you go labeling me insensitive or not caring for the poor or the sick, that is not at all what I am saying. We should help the less fortuante, whether it be the poor, the sick, or the widows. However, there are plenty of examples where "We the People" not "The Big Bad Government" have intervened to help others. We have doctors and nurses that have set up free clinics for people less fortuante, where a doctor or nurse donates their time and knowledge to help those patients for free. We have charities and places like the Red Cross to aide. The truth be known if the government would give more money back to it's citizens, we would have more money in our pockets to help others with and donate. We would have more time to go donate blood or volunteer at a food bank, because we wouldn't have to have 2 and 3 jobs just to make ends meet.

    April 17, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. jmhpro

    Not a single ounce of proof that these numbers are made up. The GOP just can't stand that it is a success. Premiums have always gone up and it has absolutely nothing to do with Obamacare. Not one of you decrying this has any respect for the facts or for all the people that will have health insurance that is far more affordable.

    April 17, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. DC Johnny

    Obamacare is a huge success.

    1) It brings healthcare to the poor – which was always an option under state Medicaid plans.

    2) It lowers premiums by up to $2500 per family – except for the overwhelming majority of families, who are seeing skyrocketing premiums and egregious deductibles.

    3) It doesn't add one penny to the debt – except for the hundreds of billions it is projected to cost us on a federal level, not to mention bankrupting the states after the 3 year moratorium ends.

    4) ... forget it. I'm depressing myself just typing this out.

    April 17, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. American Citizen

    If you like your Healthcare you can keep it. If you like your doctor you can keep it. Enough lies. See you in November

    April 17, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. Namebadtobone

    We will see in Nov how well the American people like it.

    April 17, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. BigGovtNeverWorks

    Like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both said – Big Government never works and is bad for America... Government run health care – only made possible by more taxes and penalties – hurt America... This healthcare system is bad for small businesses, bad for the job market, bad for everyone... Try what Clinton and Reagan did, go with smaller government and lower taxes and watch the American job market thrive!

    April 17, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. rs

    M Hunter

    Only 308 million to go.
    Insurance is NOT health care.
    Only wrong on both points.
    Although you DO need health insurance to AFFORD health care. It's been that way for a long, long time.

    April 17, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. steve

    you tea-billies need to go back to grade school and learn how to add and subtract!

    April 17, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. Vince

    So they cancel peoples insurance … force them to Obamacare, then say "HURRAY, YOU HAVE SIGNED UP"!!!

    April 17, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. Vince

    If this program is so great … Why has so much been delayed past the 2014 elections … BECAUSE THE WORST IT YET TO COME !!!!

    April 17, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. rs


    How many paid?

    (Insert cricket noise here)
    You can easily find out by asking the several hundred health care insurance companies contracted through the ACA. Get crackin'.

    April 17, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. andy

    More lies from the liar in chief

    April 17, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. Gioco


    Everyday the GOP becomes more irrelevant–ask any young person.
    April 17, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |

    Would You be referring to any young person who believes that Miley Cyrus, and Justin Beiber are relevant?

    April 17, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. Patrick

    Odd that the ACA is so good yet not fully implemented. The ACA keeps on getting delayed and delayed. Why is that? Elections. Maybe if the voters, well tax paying voters, felt what the ACA is costing then the ACA would not be such a good thing?

    Small numbers so you get the point. Say health insurance costs $100 per person per year. There are how many people without health insurance? 25 milion? 30 million? 40 million? Lets go with 25 million. the cost for these 25 million people at $100 per person would be (100 * 25,000,000) $2,500,000,000. That is just those 25 million people at $100 per person. How is adding $2.5 billion in costs going to lower costs for all? Don't forget that more people under the ACA will not be paying for their health insurance. They will receive a subsidy. There is extra cost that the media is ignoring.

    I keep on hearing how great the ACA is supposed to be. The costs keep on piling up yet there is suppose to be a savings? The number do not make sense. There is more costs and fewer people paying into the system. Yet costs are supposed to go down. More people using something with fewer people paying means costs go up. Not down.

    April 17, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  17. kenmargo

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

    April 17, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  18. aerokid

    I would be convinced that its what all 8 million really wanted if they signed up before January so they could get coverage right away. I see these latest numbers as people trying to avoid the penalty.

    April 17, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. Silence DoGood

    Oh my God – if people don't pay the premium, they won't be insured!!!!
    Like always.
    Conservatives say this like they have discovered something amazing.

    April 17, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. Blake Mauney

    Affordable healthcare for myself comes to $453.00 monthly. Affordable to me would have been $453 annually.

    April 17, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. candiduscorvus

    Yay. 0.03% of the United States population has signed up for Obamacare.

    ...great job.

    April 17, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  22. IRSmurf

    Awesome. This is a huge step in the right direction. Everybody needs to put their money in the health insurance pot. Now we need to find a way to slash health care costs without bringing the whole system crumbling down. Hospitals should be required to post total invoices for routine operations. Medicine costs should be capped. Extend the manufacturer's exclusivity, if need be. No drug should cost anywhere near $10,000/mo.

    April 17, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. Dan

    Major insurers, like Aetna and Wellpoint, have announced that they expect possibly a 20%+ increase in premiums next year, despite the promises that the ACA would stabilize premiums. Public support will fall if costs continue to increase and the ACA didn't make any changes to the health care system that would lower costs.

    April 17, 2014 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. michelle

    Hi Stacy, I know you get your info from Faux news but they are not criminals. They would pay a very small penalty. Faux news manipulates information to incite anger

    April 17, 2014 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. WOAH

    Do any of you realize that a "sign up" doesn't mean anything? Those who PAY and are actaully ENROLLED are what matters. That number is much, much lower.

    You cannot count the 8 million sign ups are "formerly uninsured people", as some had insurance that was cancelled, and some haven't paid their premium and therefore are still without insurance (but are considered a "sign up"),

    It's really not that difficult to see through the politics on this one.

    April 17, 2014 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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