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Obama: 'We're Not Going Back' On Health Reform Obama: 'We're Not Going Back' On Health Reform

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Health Care

Obama: 'We're Not Going Back' On Health Reform

In a speech Tuesday, the president emphasized the importance of the Affordable Care Act and the problems with the status quo.

Obama embraces Monica Weeks, who introduced him and also benefitted from provisions of the Affordable Care Act, before he addressed supporters on the health care legislation December 3, 2013.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

photo of Sophie Novack
December 3, 2013

President Obama has a simple message for Obamacare critics: "we're not going back."

"If I've got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that's what I'll do," he said at an event Tuesday afternoon.

The speech kicked off a new White House campaign to refocus the Obamacare narrative on the positives of the law, following two months of negative coverage of the troubled rollout of HealthCare.gov. Now that the consumer experience side of the exchange website is largely fixed, the administration plans to spend the next three weeks leading up to the first enrollment deadline on Dec. 23 by publicizing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

 

The President's speech today was a more forceful defense of the law than has been given in recent weeks, and indicated a clear message going forward: the status quo is not an option.

"If you ask many of the opponents of this law what exactly they'd do differently, their answer seems to be, well, let's go back to the way things used to be," he said, explaining that the law's opponents have yet to coalesce around a viable health care alternative.

"If, despite all the millions of people who are benefitting from it, you still think this law's a bad idea, then you've got to tell us specifically what you'd do differently to cut costs, cover more people, make insurance more secure, Obama said. "You can't just say that the system was working with 41 million people without health insurance."

The administration's strategy is to set up this dichotomy between what is available under Obamacare, and what was wrong with the status quo—the default comparison metric since Republicans have been heavy on calls for repeal without options to replace it. 

Obama said the ACA is working and will continue to work better. While he welcomed suggestions for how to improve the law, he insisted repeal is not going to happen.

"Look, I've always said I will work with anybody to implement and improve this law effectively," he continued. "But we're not repealing it as long as I'm president. I want everybody to be clear about that. We will make it work for all Americans."

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