Obama: ObamaCare ‘here to stay’
By Justin Sink - 09/26/13 12:31 PM ET
President Obama declared that his signature healthcare law “is here to stay” at a speech Thursday in suburban Maryland.
Obama accused Republicans of being more afraid the law will succeed than fail and slammed their efforts to strip funding or delay ObamaCare.
He said the GOP was scrambling to defeat the law now because if it was successfully implemented, it would become popular and undermine their credibility.
He reiterated that he would block such efforts if Republicans attach language to a spending measure to keep the government operating.
“They have made such a big political issue about this with lies about death panels and killing granny, Armageddon — if it actually works, they'll look pretty bad,” he said of Republicans.
“Even if you thought ObamaCare was going to hurt the economy, it wouldn't hurt the economy as much as a government shutdown,” he said.
Republicans in the House have sought to delay the healthcare law on legislation to raise the debt ceiling, and to defund it through a measure to fund the government. Neither seems likely to move through the Senate.
Five days before the law’s insurance exchanges are slated to open, Obama touted benefits that many Americans had already received, including free access to contraception and new rules that allowed young adults to stay on their parents' health plans through age 26.
He said buying insurance through the new exchanges will be as simple as visiting Kayak or Amazon.
The White House has launched a public relations effort to alert people to the exchanges.
Polls show many Americans are confused by and wary of the law, the success of which depends on convincing healthy young people to buy insurance. Those enrollees are expected to balance out the sicker, and more expensive people expected to enroll.
Prince George's County dovetailed nicely with the president's message. A predominantly black suburb of Washington, D.C., the county is home to many of the federal workers that would be hurt in a government shutdown. Moreover, nearly two in 10 residents of the county lack health insurance, making it a prime target for insurance sign-ups.
The president said most Americans would be able to purchase “good health insurance for the cost of your cell phone bill or less.”
“The result is more choice, more competition, real health care security,” Obama said.
The president conceded that there would be some problems as the insurance exchanges ramped up next week.
Already, the District of Columbia has said that those interested in purchasing plans will not be able to immediately see what the price of coverage would be. Other states haven't finalized test work on the internet portals where applicants can examine coverage.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that other glitches could plague the opening weeks of the exchanges. Small businesses will not be able to initially use the web portals, instead having to mail or fax in information to enroll in coverage. And a Spanish-language version of the website won't be ready by the end of the month.
“Like any law, like any big product launch, there’s going to be some glitches as this thing unfolds… somewhere around the country there’s gonna be a computer glitch and the websites not working exactly like its supposed to," Obama said.
But the president predicted that eventually, critics of the law would “come around” — joking that “once it's working really well, i guarantee you they will not call it Obamacare.”