President Barack Obama defended his signature healthcare law in Florida on Thursday, attacking Republicans for opposing it while touting its benefits.
Obama hit on the various benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as Obamacare, such as the ability to keep children on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26 and preventing insurers from denying people with pre-existing conditions.
These benefits, Obama said, are good for all Americans — even if they don’t know it.
“You’re getting better quality coverage, even if you don’t know Obamacare is doing it,” Obama said.
“Thanks Obama,” he added, jokingly.
Obama also defended the ACA’s health insurance exchanges. They have come under recent fire for the losses insurance companies have incurred by offering plans on the exchanges, the increasing cost of premiums for exchange plans, and a lack of competition because of insurers leaving the marketplace.
Republicans, Obama said, have also been attacking the law and saying it is in a “death spiral” because of the person who passed it, not the actual realities of the law.
“So why is it still such a fuss?” said Obama. “Part of the problem is that the law was passed by a Democratic president named Barack Obama.”
Republicans have long called for a repeal of the law, and have held numerous symbolic votes to do just that. Obama said that he was willing to work with Republicans on finding solutions to fix the law rather than simply repeal it.
“They can even change the name of the law to Reagancare or Paul Ryan-care,” Obama said. “I don’t care. I just want it to work.”
Obama admitted that the law needed some fixes to keep premiums down and help people afford plans. He suggested three fixes:
- Expand Medicaid in the 19 states where it has not been expanded. Obama said that since the funding to expand the program comes from the federal government states are laving free money on the table by not expanding it.
- Use savings from Obamacare to fund more tax credits for those that fall above the current threshold to qualify for subsidies, which is 400% of the poverty line.
- Start a government-sponsored public option, which he said would be a “fallback” if there are no private insurers in a given coverage area. This would be primarily for rural areas where there are not as many insurance companies competing.
In addition, there is a misinformation surrounding the law, according to Obama, and headlines focusing on the increased premiums on the exchanges or some of the struggles have lead Americans to believe that any issue with their health insurance is due to the ACA.
“People will say, ‘Wow, my insurance rates are going up, it must be Obama’s fault,'” Obama said. He added that since over 80% of Americans actually get their insurance from their employer or government plans like Medicare, the ACA premium increases have “nothing to do” with Obamacare.