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. Sniffit

    " in November the majority of America will speak to those up for reelection. I look forward to it."

    The majority spoke last time too...in favor of Obama and in favor of a House controlled by Dems, but alas, the GOP/Teatrolls redistricted the red states such that they were able to keep a majority in the House even though they received a minority of the votes.

    The dysfunction in congress is what happens when BOTH chambers of congress are skewed in favor of giving imbalanced representation to a minority based on geographic location, rather than having one chamber of congress representative of rule by a simple majority as it was supposed to be. The House was supposed to be that. The Senate was supposed to provide the check on population centers running roughshod over rural America. Instead, we have rural America and its lower population controlling the House despite failing to win a majority of the votes...and it's making a complete mess.

    April 17, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Richad

    Oh Ya, people wanted to sign up. If you dont, you will be hearing from the IRS.

    And I wont believe anything the lying POS says until we get full numbers showing who signed up by state and demographics to see if it can actually live upon itself, with the taxpayers having to bail out the plan more and the insurance companies.

    If not enough young people signed up, policies are going to go up alot. And it is always good to have a policy where most doctors/hospitals wont take it.

    April 17, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Dan

    Can't wait until 2018 when my employer sponsored traditional reimbursement account starts getting taxed at 40% because it's considered a "cadillac plan." I'm not rich, but my employer offers quality affordable coverage without forcing us into high deductible plans – that's real insurance. My plan has been a great way to hedge against risk as I've focused on aggressively paying off my school loans over the past four years. Too bad, its unlikely the 40% penalties forced on employer sponsored plans worth more than $10K (anyone in a traditional reimbursement account) will allow such plans to survive. I can't wait for $5,000 deductibles every year for the same premium I'm paying now! BIG VICTORY. We're not even six months into partial implementation of the ACA. How can anyone be claiming victory? We won't know the full consequences for years after Obama has left office – the bill was designed that way.

    April 17, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Tampa Tim

    I think right wingnuts will believe anything Hannity, Doocy, any republican, and Limbaugh tell them. That is why, according to baggers, Jeep moved to China, Mission Accomplished, Iran had WMDs, trickle down works, tax cuts create jobs, torture works, 47% are takers, there is no climate change, deadbeat welfare ranchers don't have to pay for grazing on government land, Obama is taking away everyone's guns, Katrina was Obama's fault, Mittens killed bin Laden, a long form of a birth certificate doesn't count, etc.

    April 17, 2014 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. just asking

    so much for honesty
    Great new's IMHO, 8 million 35% under 35 and 100,000,000,000 under budget to boot, poor o'l GOP is going to have nothing to stand on in November but saying the same old hate....

    you do know why the projected costs are less don't you? it is because these are high deductible plans which the cbo didn't not account for. they based their cost estimates on plans that resembled what employer based policies were like an dnot these junk type high deductible polciies.

    April 17, 2014 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |

    My under employed college grads can stay on my coverage !!! All my friends cut back from 40 to 29 hours !!! My relatives lost their great coverage and are paying more money for worse doctors ! Obama care is great ....not

    April 17, 2014 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. critical thinking

    If you like your insurance you can keep it, period: Health Care Lie #1
    If you like your doctor you can keep them, period : Health Care Lie #2
    If you like your hospital you can keep it, period : Health Care Lie #3
    We have signed up 8 Million uninsured Americans to the ACA : Now who amongst us, with a reasonable amount of brains believe this to be true?

    April 17, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. PaulMN

    Why don't the following 2 basic questions ever get answered regarding Obamacare?
    1) How many people actually paid their premiums for Obamacare?
    2) Will the number of healthy people (usually young healthy people) who signed up for Obamacare offset the costs of sicker people who signed up?
    Many people want to see the answers to the above 2 questions, but we just don't seem to get the questions answered by the Federal Government.

    April 17, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. JennySue

    jmhpro try checking the gallup poll that showed numbers revealing that at most only about 2.5 to 3 million were added, and most of those were probably charity cases added through Medicaid.

    April 17, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. kenmargo

    @Mad Mike..................I can tell you voted for romney. You got that "bitter pill" taste in your posts. I bet if you owned a company and got 8 million new customers, you would consider it a sucess.

    April 17, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. Smitty_NC

    Looks like the Emperor has more new clothes.

    April 17, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Randy

    It's only been a few months. How can anyone possibly say it's working? The AMA still says there arent enough doctors and there certainly hasnt been any change in the nation's overall health in 6 months. At best you can say the webpage is working better. Nothing more. We'll know in 5 years or more if the program actually worked. One ominous sign though is in the 6 months since everything really kicked in the GAO says the savings are nowhere near as good as they originally expected. We'll all have to wait to see what really happens.

    April 17, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    TADOW! Numbers don't lie. Read them and weep GOP.

    April 17, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    All this pretending from the GOPers/Teatrolls that the 8 million "simply must be all the people who were already insured but got kicked off their plans" is nonsense. The rate of uninsured has dropped 2.4% nationally...probably more by now...and has dropped 2.5% in states that participated in the ACA and expended Medicaid, while only by 0.8% in states that spitefully refused to participate or expand Medicaid (altho it did still drop so hahaha). That says all you need to know about whether it's 'actually getting uninsured folks insured. IT IS. DEAL WITH IT. HAVE A GOOD CRY, GET IT ALL OUT AND COME BACK TO REALITY WHEN YOU'VE PUT YOUR BIG BOY AND BIG GIRL PANTS BACK ON.

    BTW, those of you vomiting walls of text are only advertising the depth of your desperation to rationalize it all away so you don't have to admit you were wrong.

    April 17, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. Todd

    Be nice if this was the case for everyone. ACA destroyed my health coverage for my family. Coverage is horrible and with a ridiculous high price even after the subsidy.

    April 17, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. tom l

    “That’s right, the White House said that it surpassed its goal for people enrolled in ObamaCare,” Fallon said. “It’s amazing what you can achieve when you make something mandatory and fine people if they don't do it. And then keep extending the deadline for months. It’s like a Cinderella story. It’s just a beautiful thing. You make everyone do it. Isn’t it great how many people do it? But if you still haven't enrolled, you might have to pay a penalty called the individual shared responsibility payment, which is 1% of your salary. Then Americans said, ‘Man, good thing I don't have a job.’"

    Man that Fallon is a racist.

    April 17, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. Tommy G

    Well I certainly hope the other 40 million healthcare criminals are being rounded up by the IRS. I can't beleive they are refusing to comply with Obamacare. Of course, this 40 million will be flooding into emergency rooms right? I thought Obamacare was going to stop this? This is about a 15-20% complaince rate. And this is 'success'???

    April 17, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |

    How many forced to obamacare?

    Of the 8 m. How many uninsured BEFORE?

    April 17, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. bobo

    I heard next week it will be 12 million!

    April 17, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. kenmargo

    @Mad mike.............."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."

    We've had these things for decades and we still had 40- 50 million uninsured. So what's your point?

    April 17, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "Obama keeps forgetting that he MANDATED this. It's the LAW. You HAVE to sign up or you will face an IRS PENALTY."

    First, yawn. Here's how that works: Penalty cost < Premiums cost. So tell me, where's this massive economic coercive effect you're trying to argue undermines the success of 8M signing up?

    Second, who freekin cares whether they signed up because they had to or not? The whole point is to get everyone into the risk pool. If you don't understand that, you don't understand this issue whatsoever.

    April 17, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. Dan

    8 million have signed up, but only 800,000 have actually paid!

    April 17, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |

    The American people will tell you in November what we think of Obamacare. The day after the election you will not be bragging about what a success it is. Unless the definition of success is a Democrat slaughterhouse worse than 2010.

    April 17, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. Gurgyl

    I do not surprise a bit. By 2016, it reaches to 35 million. ACA is a Law, dire need of this century in USA. I am glad I voted for Obama twice.

    April 17, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  25. jdalco

    sure it did, and most of them already had insurance that got canceled thanks to Obama and now get to pay MORE for insurance. . . and lets not forget he is counting many folks who have signed up but not paid. . . this is a made up number by Obama to make it look good but is totally false. . . can't wait for the crash this will cause since most folks that did actually sign up are ill, the healthy are not signing up and are badly needed to pay the bills the sick will run up. this will implode and take us with it.

    April 17, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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