Obama Slams GOP for ‘Irresponsible’ Efforts To Undermine ACA
On Thursday, President Obama continued his defense of the Affordable Care Act, characterizing Republicans' ongoing efforts in Congress to repeal, defund or delay parts or all of the law as "irresponsible" and promising that the ACA "is here to stay," USA Today reports.
In his remarks at a community college in Maryland, Obama also criticized Republicans' attempts to "blackmail" him into revising the law as part of broader plan to prevent the government from shutting down and causing a U.S. credit default (Jackson, USA Today, 9/26).
Obama said that the GOP and other opponents of the law have tried unsuccessfully to "put up every conceivable roadblock" to defund or repeal the law. According to the New York Times, the president cited some of the more "flamboyant quotes" from the law's detractors as a strategy to "portray them as extremists" (Baker, New York Times, 9/26).
He also suggested that Republicans are afraid that a majority of U.S. residents will begin to favor the law when they see how they are benefitting from it, adding that opponents are seeking to "shut this thing down before people find out that they like it" (Felsenthal, Reuters, 9/26). If the law "actually works, [Republicans] will look pretty bad," he added.
Obama Urges Audience To Learn About ACA, Enroll in Exchanges
According to the Washington Post, Obama later pivoted from his "ringing defense" of the ACA and his condemnation of the law's opponents to undermine it by explaining "in the detail of a consumer guide" how people should take advantage of the insurance exchanges, which open for enrollment on Tuesday.
He reminded the mostly young adult crowd that "health care is not a privilege for the fortunate few, it is a right" for everyone, and he urged his audience to encourage their families and friends to learn about the law's benefits. "We need you to spread the word" about the ACA, he said, noting that the government has established a website where they can see "what the choices are" (Wilson/Wiggins, Washington Post, 9/26).
Obama also acknowledged the recent spate of system and software glitches in the ACA's insurance exchanges (Superville, AP/Kansas City Star, 9/26). He said, "Like any law, like any big product launch, there's going to be some glitches" with the exchanges, but he noted that the law's benefits would outweigh any initial difficulties (Sink, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 9/26).
Citing Obama's remarks earlier in the day, some Republicans on Thursday highlighted the government's recent decisions to delay some of the ACA's key provisions, such as enrollment in the law's exchanges for small businesses.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said, "Did anyone tell the president that his administration is delaying another piece of Obamacare before he tried swindling the American people again?" (USA Today, 9/26).
In the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that Obama and his administration are seeking to convince a skeptical public about a flawed law. He said, "It must be frustrating for the president that folks seem to keep tuning out all the happy talk anyway," adding, "This law is a mess. It needs to go. It's way past time to start over" (AP/Kansas City Star, 9/26).
Sebelius Continues To Promote Law's Benefits
Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during an interview with CNN on Thursday said there still is a lot of misinformation about the ACA, but the launch of the new insurance marketplaces would help people see the positive effects of the law. She cited information from an HHS report released Tuesday that found that premiums will be lower than expected in many of the exchanges. She added that many residents can expect to pay "less than [their] cell phone bill" for coverage (McLaughlin, "Inside Politics," Washington Times, 9/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.