WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama ribbed Republican efforts to undermine Obamacare and their failure to offer a serious alternative on Wednesday from the White House.
“I mean we have been promised a lot of things these past five years that didn’t turn out to be the case —death panels, doom, a serious alternative from Republicans in Congress,” Obama said, smirking during a speech highlighting the fifth anniversary of his signature healthcare law. “The budget they introduced last week would literally double the number of uninsured in America.”
Obama’s comments came a week after Republicans introduced a new House budget that gutted most of Obamacare but did not offer an alternative. Obama conceded part of the reasons Republicans hadn’t yet offered an alternative plan was because healthcare policy isn’t easy.
“And in their defense, there are two reasons why coming up with an alternative has proven to be difficult,” Obama said. “First, it’s because the Affordable Care Act pretty much was their plan before I adopted it!”
Obamacare, Obama said, was “based on conservative market based principles developed by the Heritage Foundation and supported by Republicans in Congress. And deployed by a man named Mitt Romney in Massachusetts to great effect. If they want to take credit for this law, they can. I’m happy to share it.”
There have been many efforts, Obama added, to reform the country’s healthcare system.
“And second, because health reform is really hard and people here who are in the trenches know that. Good people from both parties have tried and failed to get it done for a hundred years,” Obama said. “Because every public policy has some tradeoffs, especially when it affects one sixth of American economy and applies to the very personal needs of every individual American. Now we’ve made our share of mistakes since we passed this law. But we also know beyond a shred of a doubt that the policy has worked. Coverage is up, cost growth is at a historic low, deficits have been slashed, lives have been saved.”
Obama also said in the speech that he was ready to sign a major overhaul of Medicare negotiated by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).