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Health care enrollment hits 8 million, Obama says

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Thursday, April 17, 2014, at 3:29 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, April 18, 2014, at 5:42 a.m.

More than 8 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, a triumphant President Barack Obama announced Thursday.

Obama hailed the number -- which exceeds expectations -- and said that 35 percent of those who enrolled through the federal marketplace are under the age of 35, a coveted demographic that is cheaper to insure.

He argued that the law has also helped tame soaring health care costs, saying that since the law took effect, health care spending has risen more slowly than at any time in the past 50 years. In the decade before the Affordable Care Act, he said, employer-based insurance rose almost 8 percent a year. Last year, it grew at half that rate.

“This thing is working,” Obama said, calling for Republicans to lay down their fight to repeal the law.

“We know we've got more work to do,” he said. “But we now know for a fact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit, raise premiums for millions of Americans, and take insurance away from millions more, which is why, as I've said before, I find it strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it has always been.”

He called it “well past time to move on as a country and refocus our energy on the issues that the American people are most concerned about, and that continues to be the economy, because these endless, fruitless repeal efforts come at a cost.”

Republicans showed no inclination to fold their tents. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell countered that “countless Americans have unexpectedly been forced out of the plans they had and liked, are now shouldering dramatically higher premiums, and can no longer use the doctors and hospitals they choose.”

“It’s long past time for Washington Democrats to work with us to remedy the mess they created—and that means repealing this law and replacing it with real reforms that actually lower costs,” McConnell said.

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