SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday encouraged the uninsured or those paying high prices for health insurance to sign up for coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). He urged opponents to stop wasting time continuing to fighting its implementation.
Obama used a trip to California to highlight how the state is implementing the PPACA and rebut continuing criticism over his signature legislative achievement. He touted an effort in the state to recruit Hispanics in particular to the health care exchanges that are being created to help millions of now-uninsured consumers afford coverage.
“The main message I want for Californians and people all across the country, starting on Oct. 1, if you’re in the individual market, you can get a better deal,” Obama said. He said California’s online marketplace will allow consumers to shop for private insurance “just like you were going online to compare cars or airline tickets.”
After Obama completed his official remarks, questions from reports focused on reports that the U.S. government has been running extensive telephone and Internet surveillance programs that pull in information on U.S. residents.
California has the country’s biggest insurance market and, with 6 million uninsured residents, it is a crucial part of Obama’s effort to get consumers to sign up for coverage. Thirteen insurance companies will be offering multiple health plans that vary in coverage and price through California’s exchange, even in some of the most rural regions of the state.
In many states, Republican governments are opposing the law’s implementation and are leaving oversight of the exchanges to the federal government. Obama noted that the House has voted 37 times to repeal the health care law.
“My suggestion to them has been, let’s stop re-fighting the old battles and start working with people like the leaders who are on stage here today to make this law work the way it’s supposed to,” he said.
“You can listen to a bunch of political talk out there, negative ads and fear-mongering geared toward the next election, or alternatively you can actually look at what’s happening in states like California right now,” Obama said.
The president said there would be “glitches” and “hiccups” in getting the system up and running. He said current premium increases Americans may experience are not a result of the law, but the result of employers shifting costs to workers or insurers “jacking up prices unnecessarily.”
Getting young people to enroll through the exchanges also is critical; they cost insurers less money because they tend to have the best health and don’t require a lot of costly medical care.