Obama says 8M signed up for health care through exchanges, contends 'this thing is working'

President Barack Obama speaks about health care, on Thursday, April 17, 2014, in the briefing room of the White House in Washington. The president said 8 million have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

President Barack Obama speaks about health care, on Thursday, April 17, 2014, in the briefing room of the White House in Washington. The president said 8 million have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

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"It's long past time for Washington Democrats to work with us to remedy the mess they created — and that means repealing this law and replacing it with real reforms that actually lower costs," McConnell said.

As Obama's health law begins to look more viable, Democrats have been seeking to change the political debate from one about repeal to one about fixing lingering issues with the law.

Obama said it's "absolutely possible" to make improvements, but that it would require a change of attitude from Republicans. But election-year posturing and the GOP's reluctance to be seen as embracing "Obamacare" make than an unlikely proposition.

The president's upbeat assessment came shortly after he and top aides had separate meetings with leading insurance executives and state insurance commissioners.

"I think that's a pretty good number in terms of trying to make sure we have a healthy pool," Montana's insurance commissioner, Monica Lindeen, said of the surge in younger enrollees.

In other positive news for Obama's health care law, California's state-run insurance exchange reported Thursday that nearly 1.4 million Californians had enrolled by the end of open enrollment, besting original projections by almost 100,000 people.

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