Despite problems that Obamacare suffered “out of the starting gate,” President Barack Obama told a cheering audience in the Rose Garden today, 7.1 million people have signed up for coverage at the federal exchanges.
“In these first six months, we’ve taken a big step forward,” the president said of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. “Under this law, the share of Americans with health insurance is up, and the growth in the cost of health insurance is down.”
The law hasn’t fixed a broken health-care system, Obama said, but it has made it “a lot better.”
“Regardless of your politics, or your feelings about me,” he said, “that’s something that’s good for our country.”
Standing alongside the president today: Vice President Joe Biden, who was there at the signing of the health-care law in 2010, famously declaring before an open mic that this was a big f—– deal. Today, the mic was picking up the chirping of spring birds.
“There are still no death panels — Armageddon hasn’t arrived,” said Obama, asking rhetorically why anyone would want to oppose this law. “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
The enrollment of 7.1 million people came after a “remarkable surge” in the final day of the open-enrollment period, which ended at midnight, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
“It’s fair to say we surpassed everyone’s expectations,” Carney said at the White House press briefing.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking at the White House after meeting with Obama today, said Democrats “are very pleased with the ACA results,” and that the party’s candidates won’t be running away from the issue, as Bloomberg’s Angela Greiling Keane and Roger Runningen report. A member of the House Republican leadership said before the announcement that Obamacare will still be an issue in November.
“I don’t think the issue goes away at all,” Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, said on MSNBC.
The breakdowns at the Healthcare.gov website on the closing day for opening an insurance exchange account provided fodder for critics of the president’s signature health care law. It’s not only enrollment that’s a problem, they say.
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) April 1, 2014
Some Senate Dems face a difficult road to reelection because of ObamaCare. Can you guess which ones? Discussing w/ @seanhannity at 10PM.
— Karl Rove (@KarlRove) April 1, 2014
Still Democrats and their allies said the numbers speak for themselves.
Obamacare is gonna work. And all that rooting agst it to reach its goal – its like rooting agst the Jerry Lewis telethon to reach its goal
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) April 1, 2014
— Mo Elleithee (@MoElleithee) April 1, 2014
The president delivered a defiant message to Republicans still opposing the law. The website has not suffered its final problems, he acknowledged — there will be stumbles again — ”It’s gonna happen.”
Yet, he said, “In the end, history is not kind to those who would deny Americans their economic security.”