Declaring that “Armageddon” hasn’t occurred since implementation of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama did a victory lap in the Rose Garden and declared 7.1 million had signed up for Obamacare.
“The truth is, even more folks want to sign up. So anybody who was stuck in line because of the huge surge in demand over the past few days can still go back and finish your enrollment — 7.1 million, that’s on top of the more than 3 million young adults who have gained insurance under this law by staying on their family’s plan,” Obama said with Vice President Joe Biden smirking over his shoulder.
“These are all benefits that have been taking place for a whole lot of families out there, many who don’t realize that they’ve received these benefits. But the bottom line is this: Under this law, the share of Americans with insurance is up and the growth of health care costs is down, and that’s good for our middle class and that’s good for our fiscal future,” he added.
Each of his applause lines got a wild reaction from the crowd, which, according to a White House aide, was composed of “organizations and stakeholder groups who helped lead the enrollment and outreach efforts, as well as Hill lawmakers and staff from HHS, CMS and other agencies involved in implementing the ACA.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was notably not at Obama’s side during his remarks, but was spotted by the White House press pool “walking up and down the aisle before the speech began greeting people and shaking hands.” Obama did not mention her name.
“All told, because of this law, millions of our fellow citizens know the economic security of health insurance who didn’t just a few years ago — and that’s something to be proud of. Regardless of your politics or your feelings about me, or your feelings about this law, that’s something that’s good for our economy, and it’s good for our country. And there’s no good reason to go back,” Obama declared before going into a handful of anecdotes about happy Obamacare users.
“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,” he continued.
“…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. Armageddon has not arrived. Instead, this law is helping millions of Americans, and in the coming years it will help millions more.”
The president said he’s “willing to work with” people who want to make Obamacare “work even better,” but “the debate over repealing this law is over.”
“In the end, history is not kind to those who would deny Americans their basic economic security,” he said. “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.”
Obama said it was due to a grass-roots communications effort that the White House met signup goals.
“I want to make sure everybody understands: In the months, years ahead, I guarantee you there will be additional challenges to implementing this law. There will be days when the website stumbles — I guarantee it. So, press, just — I want you to anticipate — there will be some moment when the website is down — and I know it will be on all of your front pages. It’s going to happen. It won’t be news.”