Hoping to move past the website woes, President Obama went on the offensive Tuesday, insisting his signature health care law "is working and will work into the future."
The change in strategy was evident on Tuesday as President Obama publicly defended his law at an event the White House openly acknowledged was designed to reboot the narrative.
“Our poor execution in the first couple months on the website clouded the fact that there are a whole bunch of people who stand to benefit,” Obama told supporters gathered at the White House.
“Now that the website’s working for the vast majority of people, we need to make sure that folks refocus on what’s at stake here,” said Obama, who spoke days after the administration said it had largely fixed HealthCare.gov, which has clearly boosted the administration’s confidence:
"And today, the website is working well for the vast majority of users. More problems may pop up, as they always do when you’re launching something new. And when they do, we’ll fix those, too. But what we also know is that after just the first month, despite all the problems in the rollout, about half a million people across the country are poised to gain health care coverage through marketplaces and Medicaid beginning on January 1st -- some for the very first time. We know that -- half a million people. (Applause.) And that number is increasing every day and it is going to keep growing and growing and growing, because we know that there are 41 million people out there without health insurance. And we know there are a whole bunch of folks out there who are underinsured or don’t have a good deal. And we know the demand is there and we know that the product on these marketplaces is good and it provides choice and competition for people that allow them, in some cases for the very first time, to have the security that health insurance can provide.
The bottom line is this law is working and will work into the future. People want the financial stability of health insurance. And we’re going to keep on working to fix whatever problems come up in any startup, any launch of a project this big that has an impact on one-sixth of our economy, whatever comes up we’re going to just fix it because we know that the ultimate goal, the ultimate aim, is to make sure that people have basic security and the foundation for the good health that they need.
Now, we may never satisfy the law’s opponents. I think that’s fair to say. Some of them are rooting for this law to fail -- that’s not my opinion, by the way, they say it pretty explicitly. (Laughter.) Some have already convinced themselves that the law has failed, regardless of the evidence. But I would advise them to check with the people who are here today and the people that they represent all across the country whose lives have been changed for the better by the Affordable Care Act."
The President took a much sharper tone with the media while chastising Republicans as wanting to revert to the troubled policies of the past:
"Just the other day, the Republican Leader in the Senate was asked what benefits people without health care might see from this law. And he refused to answer, even though there are dozens in this room and tens of thousands in his own state who are already on track to benefit from it. He just repeated “repeal” over and over and over again. And obviously we’ve heard that from a lot of folks on that side of the aisle.
Look, I’ve always said I will work with anybody to implement and improve this law effectively. If you’ve got good ideas, bring them to me. Let’s go. But we’re not repealing it as long as I’m President and I want everybody to be clear about that. (Applause.)
We will make it work for all Americans. If you don’t like this law -- (applause) -- so, if despite all the millions of people who are benefitting from it, you still think this law is a bad idea then you’ve got to tell us specifically what you’d do differently to cut costs, cover more people, make insurance more secure. You can’t just say that the system was working with 41 million people without health insurance. You can’t just say that the system is working when you’ve got a whole bunch of folks who thought they had decent insurance and then when they got sick, it turned out it wasn’t there for them or they were left with tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs that were impossible for them to pay.
Right now, what that law is doing -- (baby talks.) Yes, you agree with me. (Laughter.) Right now, what this law is doing is helping folks and we’re just getting started with the exchanges, just getting started with the marketplaces. So we’re not going to walk away from it. If I’ve got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that’s what I’ll do. That’s what we’ll do. (Applause.)"
You can read the full transcript below the fold, or at Whitehouse.gov...
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