Republicans respond in fury to Obama's Obamacare defence: 'It's a disastrous failure'

Republicans roundly criticised a Thursday speech from President Barack Obama in which he defended his administration’s signature Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare.

During the speech Obama said that the law is working, but needs adjustments and that Republicans are criticising the law only because it was passed by him.

“So why is there still such a fuss?” Obama said. “Well, part of the problem is the fact that a Democratic president named Barack Obama passed the law.”

Obama also said that Republicans could rename the law “Reagancare, or they can call it Paul Ryan-care” as long as they agreed to make changes and not repeal it.

Republicans were quick to respond to Obama, and widely said that the law was not working as the president described, but rather failing Americans.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said in a statement that he was “not sure what health care law he’s talking about.”

“He wondered out loud why there’s been such a fuss,” Ryan said. “It’s no secret: It’s because of Obamacare. That’s why we’ve seen record premium hikes. That’s why millions of people — including millennials — have lost their plans, or been forced to buy plans they don’t like. That’s why we’ve seen waste, fraud, and abuse. And at this point, one thing is clear: This law can’t be fixed.”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse also criticised the speech and pointed to many of the same issues as Ryan: rising premiums and millions of Americans have lost their plans.

“There’s a ‘fuss’ about Obamacare because it’s a disastrous failure,” Sasse said in a statement.

The Nebraska senator continued: “There’s a ‘fuss’ because millions of families have already lost their plans and millions more will this year. There’s a ‘fuss’ because premiums have gone through the roof. There’s a ‘fuss’ because more than half of the CO-OPs failed and now big insurance companies are scrambling for the exit. There’s a ‘fuss’ because even Democrats know it’s ‘crazy.'”

Sasse referred to statements from former President Bill Clinton on October 4, who called Obamacare “craziest thing” and said the current health insurance system “doesn’t make any sense.” He has since clarified his position that he supports Obamacare, but his comments have continued to be highlighted by Republicans.

Kevin Brady, head of the House’s Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement to Business Insider that Republicans will continue to reduce regulation on health care and criticised the speech from Obama.

“President Obama’s answer to his law’s clear failures is to double down on the same misguided approach that led to higher health insurance premiums and fewer choices,” Brady said. “That’s hardly the antidote workers and families are looking for as they struggle to find quality insurance options, pay for care, or visit the doctor of their choice.” 

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado took to Twitter to express his disagreement with Obama’s speech:

While it is true that many people have been forced to shift to different plans on the exchanges due to insurers leaving the ACA marketplaces, Obamacare has resulted in a net addition of 20 million insured people. The uninsured rate is also at the lowest ever.

Premiums, however, have skyrocketed for those on the exchanges with some states seeing rises of as much as 60%. Most Americans, around 75%, receive coverage form their employer or a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid, so these hikes would not directly impact their premiums.

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