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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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released its score of the House-passed American Health Care Act, which would replace Obamacare. According to the CBO, the bill would reduce the deficit by $119 billion by 2026, while leaving 14 million more Americans uninsured in 2018 than under current law, a number swelling to 23 million by 2026. Further, insurance premiums would balloon 20 percent in 2018 and five percent in 2019 before the waiver provision in the legislation would kick in. The provision allows states to apply for waivers and permit insurers to offer skimpier plans, which would likely entice younger and healthier individuals to buy health insurance while potentially pricing older and less healthy Americans out of insurance plans. House Republicans approved this bill in late April without waiting for the CBO score.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that President Donald Trump's budget is little more than recycling bin material. "The budget proposed by the president doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing," Graham said. Graham had previously opposed the budget over its nearly 30 percent cut to the budget of the State Department. The budget slashes spending on domestic priorities while increasing military spending.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he doesn't yet know the formula towards gaining passage of an Obamacare replacement in the Senate. "I don't know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment. But that's the goal," McConnell said. The House passed an Obamacare replacement bill which has been widely seen as dead on arrival in the Senate, and McConnell has put together a working group of Republican Senators working towards creating health care legislation which could gain the support of at least 50 Senators.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."