Obama Won’t Stop Talking About Obamacare

Health care got the most State of the Union airtime in Tuesday’s address since 2010.

National Journal
Sam Baker
Jan. 28, 2014, 5:25 p.m.

Health care got more at­ten­tion on Tues­day than it has had in a State of the Uni­on since 2010, as Pres­id­ent Obama de­fen­ded the Af­ford­able Care Act while us­ing the high-pro­file speech to make a pitch for en­roll­ment — and he even took a chance to needle the law’s crit­ics.

“Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the ap­plic­a­tion,” Obama said. The ad­min­is­tra­tion is set to spend mil­lions of dol­lars over the next two months to en­cour­age people to en­roll in the health care law’s new cov­er­age op­tion, and Obama’s dir­ect ap­peal dur­ing the State of the Uni­on was an­oth­er clear sign that the White House be­lieves its best polit­ic­al ar­gu­ment is simply to get as many people covered as pos­sible.

But that didn’t stop the pres­id­ent from tak­ing a few cracks at Re­pub­lic­ans for their fix­a­tion on re­peal­ing Obama­care — or, at least, hold­ing sym­bol­ic re­peal votes to squeeze Demo­crats ahead of this year’s midterms.

“If you have spe­cif­ic plans to cut costs, cov­er more people, and in­crease choice — tell Amer­ica what you’d do dif­fer­ently. Let’s see if the num­bers add up,” Obama said. “But let’s not have an­oth­er 40-something votes to re­peal a law that’s already help­ing mil­lions of Amer­ic­ans. … The first 40 were plenty.”

Ken­tucky Gov. Steve Be­s­hear won a shout-out from the pres­id­ent for suc­cess­fully im­ple­ment­ing a state-run in­sur­ance ex­change in a deeply red state. Ken­tucky has one of the most ef­fect­ive ex­changes in the coun­try.

“Ken­tucky’s not the most lib­er­al part of the coun­try, but he’s like a man pos­sessed when it comes to cov­er­ing his com­mon­wealth’s fam­il­ies,” Obama said.

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