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Policy / white house

Obama Not Timid on Health Law

(Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images)

photo of Meghan McCarthy
October 28, 2010

Updated at 8:44 a.m. on October 28.

President Obama got snarky with Jon Stewart last night, acknowledging with a grin that his signature health overhaul law did not transform that nation’s health care system overnight.

But Obama, the first sitting president to do an interview with Stewart on the Daily Show, spent a sizable portion of their time seriously defending what he said many would consider the most significant legislation in the country’s history.

 

Obama directly challenged Stewart on the notion that the health care law was “timid,” pointing to the law’s benefits, including the 30 million additional people expected to get insurance coverage, consumer protections now required in most health insurance plans, the end of insurance rescissions, and regulations that allow children to stay on their parent’s policy until age 26.

“It gets discounted because we didn’t get 100 percent of what we wanted, we got 90 percent,” said Obama of the law, lamenting that people tend to focus on the “10 percent” that they didn’t get.

And when Stewart said the law did nothing to prevent insurance companies from raising insurance premiums before 2014 when insurance exchanges come on line, Obama flat-out rejected Stewart’s statement.

“That is not true,” said Obama. “We have empowered state insurance commissioners to review rate hikes,” pointing to North Carolina as an example of recent insurance increases brought under control.

The Health and Human Services Department rolled out $46 million in grants to nearly 50 states in August to help build insurance rate review capacities, but states are not required to keep insurance premium rates steady.

Obama also gave a shout-out to Democrats in conservative districts who voted in support of the law, specifically naming Reps. Tom Perriello of Virginia, John Boccieri of Ohio, and Betsy Markey of Colorado. All three voted for the health care law and are now fighting exceedingly difficult battles to keep their seats in the midterm election.

CORRECTION: The original version of this report incorrectly identified the state John Boccieri represents.

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