President Obama, in his latest attempt to retool his messaging on Obamacare, vowed to spend the rest of his time in office standing by the new health care law, fixing problems that arise and fighting efforts to repeal it.
“Look, I've always said I will work with anybody to improve this law and implement it effectively ... but we're not repealing it as long as I'm president,” Obama said Tuesday at the White House.
“We will make it work for all Americans,” Obama added, as the room erupted in applause.
The event was the first in a series of daily promotional events being organized by the White House through Dec. 23, the deadline to register for insurance coverage that will kick in on Jan. 1.
President Obama said the focus on the Affordable Care Act over the last two months has understandably focused on the problem-riddled rollout of the healthcare.gov website and hurdles Americans have faced in signing up for the federal insurance exchanges.
But Obama said the administration is working through those problems and the website is far more functional today than it was on Oct. 1.
“Today the website is working well for the vast majority of users,” he said. “This law is working and will work in the future.”
Monica Weeks, a 26-year-old who suffers from Crone's disease, introduced Obama and thanked him for fighting for passage of the health care law. She said she began having symptoms of the chronic stomach disorder in 2007 and thanks to Obamacare was able to stay on her parent's health insurance plan to receive infusions and treatments that would have cost thousands of dollars without insurance.
During his remarks, Obama referenced a patient named Justine receiving cancer treatment at Cleveland's University Hospitals because of Obamacare.
“For all the day-to-day fights around the Affordable Care Act, it's stories like hers that should remind us why we took on this reform in the first place,” he said.
The president's latest promotion push comes a day after the problem-plagued website handled what the administration officials said was more than 1 million visitors, although the officials did not say how many of those users successfully enrolled.
Obama said just like with most new start-ups, the website is not glitch-free now and will encounter more problems, which he pledged to fix as quickly as possible. Some of those problems include back-end bugs that are still plaguing the website and garbling the application information or losing it for tens of thousands of people who have already signed up for coverage.
“Whatever comes up, we're going to fix it because we know the ultimate aim is that people have basic security and the foundation for the good health that they need,” he said.
The president also announced that more than 1.46 million people have been added to Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program because of expanded services under the new health care law.
The Affordable Care Act offers states additional federal funding to provide Medicaid and CHIP coverage to additional low-income Americans. So far, 24 states and the District of Columbia have accepted the expansion funding while three others are still deciding and 23 have declined.
“We may never satisfy the law's opponents,” he added. “Some of them are rooting for this law to fail and some are already convinced it has failed. I would advise them to check with the people here today and people all over this country whose lives are affected by this law.”
Hours earlier, critics led by conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill, said the law's problems extend far beyond the website and the only solution is to repeal the entire law.
“It's not just a broken website; this bill is fundamentally flawed,” House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday.
“When you look at Obamacare, what you see is a government-centered health care delivery system” and Americans don't like what they see, he said.
“They want to be able to pick their own type of health insurance, they want to be able to pick their own doctor and they want to be able to pick their own hospital,” he added.