Tags: State of the Union 2014 | Obamacare | short | shrift | sign-up

Obama Ignores Healthcare Problems in Speech

Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 11:29 PM

By Cathy Burke

The Affordable Care Act created one of the Obama administration's biggest crises, and sparked a precipitous drop in confidence in the president among Americans.

Yet after the months of confusion, broken promises and disappointment, President Barack Obama gave scant attention to his signature healthcare law in the State of the Union speech Tuesday night — and ignored its myriad problems.

Instead, Obama had one brief message on the new law: "Sign up."

"I ask every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31st," he said. "Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It will give her some peace of mind — plus, she'll appreciate hearing from you."

The president took about 45 minutes to get to the subject of the "broken healthcare system," saying: "And in case you haven't heard, we're in the process of fixing that."

He declared more than 3 million people under 26 gained coverage under their parents' plans, and that more than 9 million Americans signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage, touting that "no American can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, back pain, or cancer," and that "No woman can ever be charged more just because she's a woman."

"And we did all this while adding years to Medicare's finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat, and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors," he insisted.

Though Obama failed to admit to any mistakes, for the first time, he conceded Republicans might have some ideas on how to make things better.

"I don't expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law," he said. "But I know that the American people aren't interested in refighting old battles. So again, 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."

That is just what three Senate Republicans did Monday, but they got no recognition in the speech.

Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Orrin Hatch of Utah released a legislative blueprint to replace Obamacare with a package of election year proposals intended to lower health insurance costs while retaining some elements of Obamacare.

But instead of congratulating them, Obama just referred to old battles. "Let's not have another 40-something votes to repeal a law that's already helping millions of Americans," he urged GOP members. "The first 40 were plenty."

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