President Obama told reporters in Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday that he “just heard about” about the flap with MIT Jonathan Gruber saying that “stupid” Americans were misled by the healthcare law.
“No, I did not,” the president said when asked if he led Americans astray in order to get his signature legislation passed.
“I get well briefed before I come out here. The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run,” Obama said.
“The one thing we can’t say is that we did not have a lengthy debate about healthcare in the United States of America, or that it was not adequately covered. I mean, I would just advise all of — every press outlet here: Go back and pull up every clip, every story, and I think it’s fair to say that there was not a provision in the healthcare law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent.”
Obama added that “there were folks who disagreed with some of these various positions.”
“It was a tough debate,” he continued. “But the good news is — and I know this wasn’t part of your question — but since some folks back home who don’t have health insurance may be watching, open enrollment just started, which means that those who did not take advantage of the marketplaces the first time around, they’ve got another chance to sign up for affordable health care; they may be eligible for a tax credit.”
The president touted Healthcare.gov, which saw epic technical fails in its launch, as something that “works really well now.”
“Healthcare is working. More than 10 million people have already gotten health insurance; millions more are eligible. And contrary to some of the predictions of the naysayers, not only is the program working, but we’ve actually seen healthcare inflation lower than it’s been in 50 years, which is contributing to us reducing the deficit, and has the effect of making premiums for families lower that they otherwise would have been if they have health insurance,” Obama said. “All right?”
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell told NBC on Sunday that the legislation was about “three fundamental things.”
“And these are things that have bipartisan agreement — affordability, access and quality,” Burwell said. “That’s what the American people want. And actually there’s bipartisan agreement.”
She was asked twice if Gruber will be welcome back to consult on healthcare policy.
“Certainly right now in terms of the work that we’re doing at HHS, we’re doing our work and focusing on what we are doing and our modeling,” Burwell replied. “With regard to Mr. Gruber and his comments, I think I’ve been clear. That’s something we fundamentally disagree with.”