WASHINGTON – President Obama pushed back against Republican opposition to his healthcare law on Tuesday and pledged to make Obamacare work even if it takes the rest of his term.
In an afternoon address at the White House, Obama accused GOP critics of trying to kill his reform law without offering any solutions to the long-standing problems of the American healthcare system.
"My main message today is, 'We're not going back,'" Obama said. "That seems to be the only alternative that Obamacare's critics have."
"You've got good ideas? Bring 'em to me," Obama said. "But we're not repealing it as long as I'm president."
The defiant promise came as the Obama White House tried to take hold of the public relations mess created by the faulty federal online marketplace he launched in October.
If Americans perceive that the entire system is as flawed as its website, Obama aides worry, the marketplaces won't get up and running to full effect over the next few months.
Republican critics of the law say the website troubles are a symptom of bigger problems.
"The American people have been learning about the impact Obamacare will have on individuals and families in the form of higher premiums, disrupted insurance and lost jobs," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday. "And they're becoming increasingly aware of the fact Obamacare is broken beyond repair."
The only fix, he said, is "full repeal followed by step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that drive down costs."
But as Obama launched his campaign to highlight the benefits of the Affordable Care Act – with plans to emphasize a different good-news story about the law each day – he said that Republicans are interested only in repeal of the Democratic initiative.
Surrounded by people he said were already beneficiaries of the law, Obama drew a standing ovation with his pledge to stand by the marketplaces.
One young woman told the story of her battle with Crohn's disease, and of the comfort she takes from the law's prohibition on caps on lifetime benefits and discrimination based on preexisting conditions.
"It's stories like hers that should remind us why we took on this reform in the first place," Obama said. "That's what's gotten lost a little bit over the last couple of months."
[Updated, 1:30 p.m. Dec. 3: The president's remarks were the kickoff event of the December campaign. On Wednesday, the White House plans to host a "youth summit" of more than 160 young leaders – including student body presidents, deejays and young entrepreneurs – to help spread the word to peers about how to enroll.
Planners of the event say they're aiming to explain Obamacare directly to "key young influencers" who hold sway among consumers 18 to 35 years old. Obama will speak to the participants and appeal for their help in his cause.]