Emboldened by Obamacare signups surpassing even the White House’s most generous projections, President Obama went on offense yesterday, attacking the Republican strategy of fruitlessly attempting to repeal the health care law.
Not only have the signups under the Affordable Care Act reached 8 million Americans, which is a million more than the White House’s boldest prediction, but the president said 35 percent of them are under the age of 35. The administration had previously set an ambitious goal of having 38 percent of insured between 18 and 34, so that insurers wouldn’t have to contend with a more expensive glut of sickly older people.
“I’ve said before this law won’t solve all the problems in our health care system. We know we’ve got more work to do,” the president said during a White House new conference before he leaves on a weeklong trip to Asia. “But we now know for a fact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit, raise premiums for millions of Americans and take insurance away from millions more.”
“Which is why, as I’ve said before, I find it strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it has always been,” he continued. “They still can’t bring themselves to admit that the Affordable Care Act is working.”
Obama said under his signature law the share of Americans with insurance has increased, the growth of healthcare costs has fallen, hundreds of millions of Americans who already have insurance now have new benefits and protections, and no one with a pre-existing health condition can be denied coverage.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, over the next decade the new law will cost taxpayers $100 billion less than previously estimated.
In an email to Democratic supporters, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee listed the accomplishments of the health care law: 8 million signups through the marketplace, 3 million young adults who were able to stay on their parents’ plan, 3 million more people enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, 5 million people on ACA plans bought outside the marketplace. That’s a total of 19 million people signing up for health care—though the system can’t determine how many of them were previously part of the 35 million Americans without insurance.
In addition, 35 percent of signups on the marketplace are people under 35 years old, and 28 percent are between 18 and 34 years old — virtually the same percentage seen under former Gov. Mitt Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts.
Of course, no one expects the Republicans to let up on their efforts to repeal the law and to use it as a hammer to win the Senate in November.
“Democrats need to start making the case for Obamacare,” Thomas Mills, a Democratic consultant and blogger in North Carolina, told the Associated Press. “They all voted for it, they all own it, so they can’t get away from it. So they’d better start defending it.”
Texas-based Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak told the AP that “the negative opinion of Americans toward Obamacare is baked in.”
“If Obamacare was truly trending positively,” he said, “[Kathleen] Sebelius would have stayed, and Democrats in tough races would be picking a fight on Obamacare, instead of mostly hiding from it.”
Republicans need to gain six seats in the November midterm elections to take control of the 100-member Senate.