Obama Warns Republicans He Won’t Allow Major Changes to ObamaCare

‘By the way ... we’re really making sure the [ObamaCare] website works really well before the next open enrollment period’

"On health care, there are certainly some lines I’m going to draw. Repeal of the law, I won’t sign. Efforts that would take away health care from the 10 million people who now have it and the millions more who are eligible to get it, we’re not going to support. In some cases, there may be recommendations that Republicans have for changes that would undermine the structure of the law, and you know, I’ll be very honest with them about that and say ‘look, the law doesn’t work if you pull out that piece or that piece.’

On the other hand, what I have said, is there’s no law that’s ever been passed that is perfect. And given the contentious nature in which it was passed in the first place, there are places where if I were just drafting a bill on our own, we would’ve made those changes back then. And certainly, as we’ve been implementing, there are some other areas where we think we can do even better.

So, you know, if in fact one of the items on Mitch McConnell’s agenda and John Boehner’s agenda is to make responsible changes to the Affordable Care Act to make it work better, I’m going to be very open and receptive to hearing those ideas. But what I will remind them is that despite all the contention, we now know that the law works. You’ve got millions of people who have health insurance who didn’t have it before.

You’ve got states who have expanded Medicaid to folks who did not have it before, including Republican governors who’ve concluded this is a good deal for their state. And despite some of the previous predictions, even as we’ve been enrolled more people into the Affordable Care Act and given more people the security of health insurance, health care inflation has gone down every single year since the law passed, so that we now have the lowest increase in health care costs in 50 years. Which is saving us about $180 billion in reduced overall costs to the federal government and its -- in the Medicare program. So, we are, I think, really proud of the work that’s been done. But there’s no doubt that there are areas where we can improve it. So, I’ll look forward to seeing what -- what lists they’ve got of improvements ...

The individual mandate is a line I came across because the concept, borrowed from Massachusetts, from a law instituted by a former opponent of mine, Mitt Romney, understood that if you’re providing health insurance to people through the private marketplace, then you’ve got to make sure that people can’t game the system and just wait until they get sick before they go try to buy health insurance. You can’t ensure that people with preexisting conditions can get health insurance unless you also say, while you’re healthy, before you need it, you’ve got to -- you’ve got to get health insurance.

And, obviously, there are hardship exemptions. We understand that there’s some folks who, even with the generous subsidies that have been provided still can’t afford it. But -- but that’s a central component of the law. In terms of enrollment, we’ll do some additional announcements about that in -- in the days to come. Starting in the middle of this month, people can sign up again. I think there are a number of people who, the first time around, sat on the sidelines, in part because of our screw-ups on healthcare.gov.

That’s one area, Ed, by the way, is very particular. We’re really making sure that that Web site works super well before the next open enrollment period. We’re double- and triple-checking it. And so, I think a lot of people who maybe initially thought, we’re not sure how this works, let’s wait and see, they’re gonna have an opportunity now to sign up. And what’s been terrific is to see how more private insurers have come into the marketplace, so that there’s greater competition in more markets all around the country. The premiums that have come in, that are available to people and the choices that are available, are better than a lot of people, I think, had predicted. So the law’s working. That doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.”

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