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. spike

    Since his goal is to obliterate the middle class, I too would have to say it's working.

    April 17, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    swat guy wins the most ridiculous number of people who had to get a new policy that complied with ACA at 6.2 million lost their insurance. Wingnuts get to keep their junk policies, so that made up number is mostly bagger crap.

    April 17, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. rc

    No proof of that 8 million number. Even democrats are starting to believe that Obama lies

    April 17, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  4. btea5503

    You know, they said that the president wouldn't meet his goals, now since he has, they have come up with another question, how many have paid! I wonder what is going to happen when they find out that at least 90% have paid?

    April 17, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  5. Mac

    The government forces Americans to buy something. Government threatens them if they don't. Government then celebrates in a slightly surprised manner when the people actually listened. Prepare to have more government mandates crammed down your throats, Americans. You've asked it.

    April 17, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  6. Tampa Tim

    We have suffered through birther stupidity, and now we have to deal with republican CBO deniers. Good news from the CBO in regard to ACA brings out the truth deniers in record numbers.

    April 17, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  7. Rooney

    Every time I hear a liberal speak all I can do is just shake my head. The scary part is that they actually believe what they are saying.

    April 17, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. Donna

    The sad truth is that we will not know the truth until the Demorcats are removed from office so the truth can be revealed. Obama and the Democrats have proven over and over they don't release the entire truth. Everything is half lies or total BS lies like you can keep your doctor.

    And of course, the very worse parts of Obamacare have been delayed for the umptenth time because the affects would be so devastating to jobs and the economy AND THE DEMOCRATS IN 2014. So for people to claim Obamacare is working or a success is pure BS. More lies from the Democrat party of lies.

    April 17, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "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"

    LOL. Would you like a tissue? You no doubt were one of the people screaming "nobody is going to sign up and hahahaha we'll have the last laugh then" all along and now that you're wrong, you're pouting. Go ahead, pout. I amuses me.

    "Especially when there are 50 + million people who were uninsured before the law was past and only 8 million people signed up "

    More than they predicted and targeted for the first 6 months. Psssst: guess what....people can still keep enrolling....it's not over...so buckle up, champ, you're in for a rough ride.

    "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. "

    No it's not. It's about 18%. If it was 6%, it would mean that there were over 130M uninsured. There wasn't. It was more like 45M.

    "there are plenty of examples where "We the People" not "The Big Bad Government" have intervened to help others"

    Bottom line: IT WASN'T GETTING THE JOB DONE. That's why we had those 45M uninsured people who couldn't get necessary preventive care and medical treatment when they fell ill.

    April 17, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  10. Don

    Let's look at what we've really done here.

    1. I can't contest whether or not 8 million people really have enrolled through marketplaces for health insurance. I do know that most of the time, the numbers we get from our government are inflated (or deflated, depending on their needs).
    2. 8 million enrolled does not mean 8 million who have coverage. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt and call it 7 million who actually enrolled, were approved and paid their first month's premium. That number's likely high. But we'll go with it.
    3. Of those 7 million, I'm assuming that at least 90% of them already had coverage prior to the ACA. I can't find any hard data to support this theory (or any number for that matter) but as an insurance agent myself, who has enrolled dozens of individuals and families through my state exchange...and in speaking with other agents about this...the numbers of enrollees who didn't have any prior coverage is actually very low. I realize that my limited experience is not necessarily a sampling size of the whole, but it should be relatively indicative...within 20 percent or so. And at least 85% of my enrollees already had coverage.
    4. About 3 out of 4 of these 7 million people are receiving a government subsidy to partially or completely pay for coverage. Only one problem. The government is US. It's we the people. So we are subsidizing our own costs to enroll 7 million people, the vast majority of which already had coverage and were paying for it without any subsidy at all. And I don't care what anyone tells you, the true, total costs of the ACA coverage is much higher than it was previously. And it's going to get worse next year. Watch and see. Meanwhile, we're paying for much of this additional cost via more debt.
    5. My fifth and final point is this. Of 320,000,000 Americans, 7 million have enrolled & paid. Let's be generous and assume that 2 million of those are actually new enrollees (those who didn't have coverage before). Since over 3 million have received enrolled in Medicaid and this law has helped 2 million new beneficiaries obtain health care but 5-6 million are receiving subsidies, what we have really done is nothing more than expand the welfare state. And that's not how America became great.

    This law is a bust and next year it's about to become much worse. And I say that as one who has something to gain financially from the continued implementation of the ACA.

    April 17, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  11. Tom

    Funny thing is if you look at your premiums with your old insurance and look at the one you have now, bet you're glad you got kicked off your old one. I am

    April 17, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. SK in TN

    Gotta love the GOP arguments here. It's like Obama had said "Hey, see this baseball? I'm going to hit it over that fence over there." Then, when he does, the GOP starts in on him: "But how do we know the wind didn't help? You didn't do it with one eye shut, now did you? Nobody can tell us how far Romney hit it!" Silly arguments. The Obama Administration set a benchmark, and they blew past it, and the people who signed up for the exchanges for the most part are saving the types of money that we were promised, and now the GOP has got NOTHING to win on in November. Poor guys. Maybe the Grand Ole Party will finally have to take Bobby Jindal's advice and quit being the "Party of Stoopid."

    April 17, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. Tom

    I went from $636 a month down to 387 a month, and I am using my same doctor.

    April 17, 2014 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "I think right wingnuts will believe anything Hannity, Doocy, any republican, and Limbaugh tell them. "

    The reason is simple: they tell them what they want to hear no matter how contrary to fact, evidence, experts, reality, etc., it is. It's Affirmation Television, not information television.

    April 17, 2014 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. don in albuquerque

    Going to see the GOTP Lie Machine have to go into overload as ACA becomes more accepted. And Blake Mauney–$453.00 annually? That must have been a real junk policy. Guess you just weren't to bright to spend even that much a year on trash. That comes out to about $38.00 per month. In over sixty years of paying premiums I never had one that low. What did it cover? Nose bleed?

    April 17, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. sly

    Ha ha ha ha ha!

    Another huge win for President Obama.

    The good times just keep a coming!

    April 17, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. davecu

    Why would I trust his numbers?
    He's spoken the truth so far, hasn't he?

    April 17, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  18. it must be said

    All I know for sure is that now the government and politicians in Washington are in more control of my healthcare than I am. They now have the ability to do whatever they want to do with it. Before it was me, my employer and the healthcare company. Now that personal and private relationship has been invaded by many unwelcomed politicians using my healthcare for other purposes. I don't want the govenment in this relationship AT ALL.

    April 17, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  19. SK in TN

    Dan said: "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." – that's wrong. That is the cap only on individual plan costs, and if your reimbursement plan hits that amount then it's already illegal. The cap on a family plan is much, much higher.

    April 17, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. HM

    @candiduscorvus: you need to get your math right. 8 million of the US population is not 0.03%. It is 2.5%!

    April 17, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "despite the promises that the ACA would stabilize premiums. "

    1. If you understand anything about this law and the health care industry, you understand that it was never expected, intended or promised to "stabilize premiums" instantly. It's going to take a DECADE or more.

    2. It's already showing signs of measurably slowing the growth rate of premiums.

    3. You won't find the MSM talking about it because it ruins YOUR delusions, but go google yourself information on all the rebate checks insurers who overcharge on premiums are being forced to send out. Go ahead. Look it up. It was over $1.3B last year.

    April 17, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. dieter621

    If you lost your healthcare what choice do you have! This is outrageous that he would claim this is working when millions lost coverage and are now forced into plans they don't want. British intelligence and out Supreme Court say he is an imposter,where the hell is congress and the articles of impeachment?

    April 17, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  23. Mark

    My issue is that I'm young, healthy, exercise many times a week, and don't smoke. Yet they still charge me 250.00 a month with a 10000 dollar deductable a year for a very basic plan. Let me ask you this, why would I pay that much for somthing I won't even use or a deductable I won't ever meet ? And don't say because ____ might happen let's be realistic

    April 17, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  24. Mark

    Its the law:)

    April 17, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    " I see these latest numbers as people trying to avoid the penalty."

    That means nothing. Whether they wanted it or just wanted to avoid the penalty (which is smaller than the premiums most of the time, so your argument doesn't really make sense) it just means the law is working. The law offered something the vast majority of people who didn't have it wanted, and it provided a mechanism for incentivizing those who didn't want it to get it. All you're dong when you blather about the tax penalty being the reason people signed up is saying "the ACA worked."

    April 17, 2014 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
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