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Obama on Obamacare

Herb Boyd | 10/24/2013, 5:35 p.m.
'We must be partners in progress,' says Obama

Many Americans who were not fully aware of the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” or who were frustrated by attempts to log on to the government’s website to purchase the mandated insurance got answers to both pressing problems on Monday from the man himself.

Surrounded by people who have already benefited from Obamacare, President Barack Obama explained several of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and why the website hasn’t been going as smoothly as he would like.

He expressed his glee in having the government up and running again. “Today I want to talk about how we’re going to get the marketplaces running at full steam as well,” he began.

First of all, he reiterated a fact he’s been saying since the act’s inception. “Eighty-five percent of Americans who already have health insurance through your employer or Medicare or Medicaid, you don’t need to sign up for coverage … you’ve already got coverage,” he said.

It was the 15 percent of Americans without coverage to whom he directed his remarks. For these Americans who don’t get insurance through their employers or who can’t afford insurance, Oct. 1, he said, was an important date. “That’s when we opened the new marketplaces where people without health insurance or who can’t afford [it] or who isn’t part of a group plan can finally start getting affordable coverage,” he explained. It’s not slated to kick in until Jan. 1.

He was glad to report a study that showed “nearly six in 10 uninsured Americans will find that they can get covered for less than a hundred dollars a month.” This comment was met with a round of applause. “Think about that: You can get health insurance for what may be the equivalent of your cellphone bill or your cable bill,” he said. Of course, that depends on who your company or carrier is and the kind of plan you have. Even so, comparatively, it sounds like a good deal.

The president took time to carefully explain the glitch at healthcare.gov. First of all, the large number of people requesting the insurance from the federal government clearly exceeded their expectations, which he came to nearly 20 million visits. This, he stressed, was an overwhelming indication of uninsured Americans’ desire to get coverage. And the key to Obamacare working is the number of young people who sign up.

Curiously,Edward Snow-den, the whistleblower in Russia, sent a message indicating he could fix the broken system, having hacked into it, in exchange for immunity. Obama refused. “Edward Snowden is a traitor who has compromised our national security” he said in a statement to the press. “Having said that, if he knows why we keep getting those error messages, that could be a conversation.

“We know that nearly one-third of the people applying in Connecticut and Maryland, for example, are under 35 years old,” he announced. It’s a small example, but is nevertheless an encouraging indicator.

Equally important to the act’s success is the extent to which the government will provide the subsidies for those unable to afford the insurance and reside in states—some 26 of them—that have decided not to expand Medicaid to absorb the subsidy payments.

Then, sounding like the silky smooth salesman he can be, Obama became the perfect pitchman.

“The product is good. The health insurance that’s being provided is good. It’s high quality, and it’s affordable,” he intoned, bearing all the earmarks of a used car salesman.

But the pitchman could not end without tossing a barb or two at the Republican Party and the henchmen among them who are insurrectionists who would rather see the government collapse than have Obamacare succeed. After the brief jab, he was back to health care, which he said is “a right for us all to enjoy.”