President Barack Obama in a speech in Florida on Thursday defended his signature healthcare law, touting its benefits while attacking Republicans for opposing it.
Obama hit on the various benefits of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, such as allowing children to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26 and preventing insurers from denying people with preexisting conditions.
These benefits, Obama said, are good for all Americans — even if they don't know it.
"You're getting better quality, even though you don't know that Obamacare is doing it," Obama said.
"Thanks, Obama," he added jokingly.
Obama also defended the ACA's health insurance exchanges. They have come under fire recently for the losses insurance companies have incurred by offering plans on the exchanges, the increasing cost of premiums for plans, and a lack of competition because of insurers leaving the marketplace.
Republicans, Obama said, have also been attacking the law and saying it is in a "death spiral" because of the person who passed it, not the actual realities of the law.
"So why is there still such a fuss?" Obama said. "Well, part of the problem is the fact that a Democratic president named Barack Obama passed the law."
Republicans have long called for repealing the law and held numerous symbolic votes to do just that. Obama said he was willing to work with Republicans on finding solutions to fix the law rather than simply repealing it.
"They can even change the name of the law to Reagancare, or they can call it Paul Ryan-care," Obama said. "I don't care about credit. I just want it to work."
Obama said the law needed some fixes to keep premiums down and help people afford plans. He suggested three:
- Expand Medicaid in the 19 states where it has not been expanded. Obama said that since the funding to expand the program comes from the federal government, states are leaving free money on the table by not expanding it.
- Use savings from Obamacare to fund more tax credits for those who fall above the current threshold to qualify for subsidies, which is 400% of the poverty line.
- Start a government-sponsored public option, which he said would be a "fallback" if there are no private insurers in a given coverage area. This would be primarily for rural areas where not as many insurance companies are competing.
In addition, Obama said misinformation surrounds the law, and that headlines focusing on the increased premiums on the exchanges or some of the struggles have led Americans to believe that any issue with their health insurance is because of the ACA.
"And everybody thinks, 'Wow, my insurance rates are going up. It must be Obama's fault,'" Obama said. He added that since about 80% of Americans get their insurance from their employers or government plans such as Medicare, the ACA premium increases have "nothing to do" with Obamacare.
UPDATE: Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan responded to Obama in a statement criticizing the law.
Here's the full statement:
"After listening to the president's speech, I'm not sure what health care law he's talking about.
"He wondered out loud why there's been such a fuss. It's no secret: It's because of Obamacare. That's why we've seen record premium hikes. That's why millions of people—including millennials—have lost their plans, or been forced to buy plans they don't like. That's why we've seen waste, fraud, and abuse. And at this point, one thing is clear: This law can't be fixed.
"That's why we need to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered reforms—and our plan does just that. It's a step-by-step approach that ensures every American has access to quality, affordable health care. We believe people should have more choice—and more control—over their health care needs, and not be under the thumb of Washington bureaucrats.
"Because if we want a stronger, healthier nation, we have to offer a better way for tomorrow's generation. America's young people know a bad deal when they see one—and Obamacare is a bad deal. It's time to give every generation of Americans the real hope and change they deserve."
Watch the full speech:
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