President Barack Obama knocked opponents of his signature health care law and touted its benefits to the public during a brief speech at the White House Thursday.
Some on the left have criticized Obama for failing to sell the positive aspects of the Affordable Care Act, which will be largely implemented by 2014, amid harsh conservative opposition. House Republicans voted for the 38th time to undermine the law, which passed with no Republican support.
But Obama said the law, also known as Obamacare, will provide more affordable and widespread health care coverage – something he says is a public right.
"Just [Wednesday], state officials in New York announced that average premiums for consumers who buy insurance in their new marketplace will be at least 50 percent lower next year than they are today; think about that," he said. "Today because of the Affordable Care Act, health insurers have to spend at least 80 percent of every dollar that you pay in premiums on your health care. Not on overhead, not on profits, but on you."
The president also criticized the stalwart Republican opposition.
"Maybe they think it's good politics, but part of our job here is not to always think about politics; part of the job here is to sometimes think about getting work done on behalf of the American people," Obama said. "This is a big country and the health care industry is massive, there are tons of providers and so as we implement there are going to be glitches, and there are going to be certain states who for political reasons are resisting implementation and we're just steadily working through all that stuff."
He also denied the law was about him.
"I recognize there are a lot of folks in this town at least who are rooting for this law to fail. Some of them seem to think this law is about me," Obama said. "It's not – I already have really good health insurance. [But] affordable health care is not some privilege for the few, it's a basic right that everybody should be able to enjoy."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Obama's presentation of the law's virtues fail to line up with reality.
"They know that the law is turning out to be a train wreck," he said in a release following the president's remarks. "Nearly every major promise the president has made has been shattered. The law is costing American jobs; it's forcing people to give up health plans they like; and it's driving up the cost of care for families across America."
Many companies complained about the law's requirement they provide health insurance to their full-time employees and reportedly scaled back their full-time workforce, either through layoffs or reduced hours in order to skirt the provision. The Obama administration recently announced it would delay for a year implementing that particular mandate, but House Republicans say individuals facing the mandate that they purchase health insurance or pay a fine by 2014 should also be exempted.
"Even the president's allies in the labor unions have said the botched implementation of the health care law is leading to 'nightmare scenarios,'" Boehner said. "This law has to go."