Obama Slams the Politics of Obamacare

The president says opponents fear Americans might actually like the Affordable Care Act.

Posted: 09/26/2013 01:25 PM EDT

In a speech that was part policy and a whole lot of politics, President Obama gave a rousing lesson on the Affordable Care Act at Prince George's Community College Thursday morning.

As he and members of his administration have done for the past several days, the president hailed portions of the law that have already gone into effect, such as young adults remaining on their parents' plan, a more affordable prescription plan for Medicare recipients, the elimination of lifetime caps on coverage and other benefits.

He alternated signing the law's praises with stabs at misinformation being spread about it and slammed Republicans on Capitol Hill who've been threatening a government shutdown if the law isn't defunded.

"That's not going to happen as long as I'm president. The Affordable Care Act is here to say," Obama said.

According to Department of Health and Human Services statistics, 6.8 million uninsured African-Americans will have access to coverage in the health insurance exchange when open enrollment begins next week. Currently, about 1 in 5 is insured. In addition, approximately 500,000 African-American young adults have been able to continue receiving coverage on their parents' plan.

One of the reasons Americans have been wary of the law is a fear that their insurance costs would go up, which the president said won't happen. Competition, choice and transparency, he said will keep costs down.

In addition, HHS released today a report that shows premiums will be lower than anticipated and which includes a summary of the plan choices and expected premiums for 36 states.

The president said that there will be some glitches as the law unfolds as there are with anything new. Opponents of the law, he warned, will use them as proof that "Obamacare" isn't working.

"They have tried to put up every conceivable roadblock. They cut funding for efforts to educate people about what's in the law. Some of them said if their constituents call them we won't even try to explain to them what's in the law. They actually opened up an investigation into people who try to help churches and charities understand how to help people sign up for the law," Obama said of Republican lawmakers.

He also noted that some of the nation's wealthiest men, Tea Party donors, are funding television ads to convince young adults to not buy health care insurance.

"You know they've got good health care," Obama laughed. "Do you think if you get sick or you get hurt and you get stuck with a massive bill … they're going to help you out? Are they going to pay for your health care?"

In reality, he said Republicans don't want Americans to enroll in the plan because they might actually like it. And the closer it gets to open enrollment, he said, the more desperate "Republicans are becoming, calling the legislation dangerous and equating it to slavery.

"All this would be funny if it wasn't so crazy. A lot of it is just hot air, a lot it is just politics, I understand that," Obama said. "But now the Tea Party Republicans have taken it to a whole new level," with their calls to shut down the federal government or not raise the debt ceiling unless the law is repealed.

The good news, Obama predicted, is that eventually even Republicans will come around once they see the law in full effect.

"And once it's working really well, I guarantee you they will not call it Obamacare," he said.

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(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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