The President’s Remarks On “The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.”

April 1st, 2014

Here are the President’s remarks. The President took a victory lap today on news that the ACA, “or Obamacare” hit 7.1 million people. I should note that now that things are looking good, he is comfortable calling it Obamacare again. I suspect this will change at some point.

That’s what the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is all about -– making sure that all of us, and all our fellow citizens, can count on the security of health care when we get sick; that the work and dignity of every person is acknowledged and affirmed.  The newly insured like Marla deserve that dignity

The president also noted that there were problems with the law, though “democracy” has fixed it. Well, not really. Pen and phone.

Like every major piece of legislation — from Social Security to Medicare — the law is not perfect.  We’ve had to make adjustments along the way, and the implementation — especially with the website — has had its share of problems.  We know something about that.  And, yes, at times this reform has been contentious and confusing, and obviously it’s had its share of critics.  That’s part of what change looks like in a democracy.  Change is hard.  Fixing what’s broken is hard.  Overcoming skepticism and fear of something new is hard.  A lot of times folks would prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t.

And he made a “Death Panel” joke:

But this law is doing what it’s supposed to do.  It’s working.  It’s helping people from coast to coast, all of which makes the lengths to which critics have gone to scare people or undermine the law, or try to repeal the law without offering any plausible alternative so hard to understand.  I’ve got to admit, I don’t get it.  Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance?  Why are they so mad about the idea of folks having health insurance?  Many of the tall tales that have been told about this law have been debunked.  There are still no death panels.  (Laughter.)  Armageddon has not arrived.  Instead, this law is helping millions of Americans, and in the coming years it will help millions more.

I’ve said before, I will always work with anyone who is willing to make this law work even better.  But the debate over repealing this law is over.  The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.  (Applause.)

The President issued a warning–those who oppose this law will be viewed unfavorably by “history” (whatever that is):

In the end, history is not kind to those who would deny Americans their basic economic security.  Nobody remembers well those who stand in the way of America’s progress or our people.  And that’s what the Affordable Care Act represents.  As messy as it’s been sometimes, as contentious as it’s been sometimes, it is progress.  It is making sure that we are not the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t make sure everybody has basic health care.

One of the difficult aspects of assessing the 7.1 million number is how many of these people were previously insured. I’ve seen estimates that as few as one million people, and as many as three million were previously uninsured. In other words, its very difficult to assess how much of an impact this law made. Certainly there are those who are better off. But those improvements come at a serious cost, including making health insurance more expensive, and less comprehensive for many others. As I continue working on the next book, I try to keep these numbers in perspective. But in fairness, kudos to the administration for making it this far form the launch of the web site till March 31.