Obama Applauds Affordable Care Act

President discusses how government insurance will help the uninsured.
3:00 | 04/01/14

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Transcript for Obama Applauds Affordable Care Act
This is an ABC news special. Now reported George Stephanopoulos. Good afternoon coming on the air right now because President Obama is about to speak in the Rose Garden of the White House about obamacare. The official deadline for -- rolling in that health insurance program was midnight last night. And thanks to a last minute -- the White House announced earlier this afternoon. -- more than seven million people have already signed up for health insurance surpassing their original goal despite a famously rocky start. And another sign that the public is starting to feel better about the law our latest ABC news Washington Post poll shows voter support has climbed to 49%. Its highest number since the launch. If she's chief White House correspondent Jon -- in the Roosevelt and John even a few weeks ago White House officials didn't think they'd be in position for what -- become essentially a victory lap. Oh that's right -- -- -- it feels a little bit like a victory party here at the White House they seem. -- looking at White House staff lot of back slapping and smiles hugging going on just two weeks ago this surge really started to happen -- it did exceed. Even their own expectations. -- look for a declaration of victory from the president but George there are some real unanswered questions still about. These numbers we don't know how many of the seven million. Previously did not have insurance how many of them had insurance and sought canceled because of the Affordable Care Act. And we also don't know how many people have actually paid that first premium which is of course what you need to do to actually be enrolled. In health insurance for people who have not signed up -- penalties will kick in. That's right 95 dollars is the minimum penalty if you don't have health insurance. And it can go up there can be 1% of your salary so those penalties will begin immediately now there are. A lot of loopholes that were worked -- -- -- hardships. That made it impossible for you to sign up. All you can you can find ways to avoid that penalty but technically that penalty begins today -- here -- the president right now sunny afternoon in the Rose Garden. Thank everybody. -- -- -- -- Thank you so much. Welcome to the White House. Six months or go to that. A big part of the Affordable Care Act kicked in as healthcare dot gov and state insurance marketplaces went line. And millions of Americans finally had that same chance to buy quality. Affordable health care. And the peace of mind that comes -- that there's -- body else. Last night the first open enrollment period under this law came to an -- And despite several -- weeks out of the gate because of problems with a web site. Seven point one million Americans have now signed up for private. -- -- Seven point one. And drew visit and more folks want -- sign ups or anybody who was stuck in line because the huge surge of demand over the past few days. Can still go back and finish your role. Seven point one million. That's on top of the more than three million young adults who gained insurance under this law by staying on their families plan. That's on top of the millions more -- gain access through Medicaid expansion. And the Children's Health Insurance Program. Making. Affordable. Coverage available to all Americans. Including those with preexisting conditions. Is now an important goal. Of this small. In these first six months we've taken a big step forward. And just as importantly. This law is bringing greater security to Americans who already have coverage. Because -- Affordable Care Act a hundred million Americans have gained free preventive care like mammograms and contraceptive care under their existing planes. Because of this law -- nearly eight million seniors have saved almost ten billion dollars. On their medicine because we closed. A gaping hole in Medicare's prescription drug plan we're closing the doughnut hole. And because of this law a whole lot of families won't be driven into bankruptcy by a serious illness. Because -- Affordable Care Act prevents your insurer from placing dollar limits on the coverage they provide. These are all benefits that have been. Taking place. For a whole lot of families -- there -- many -- we don't realize. That they've received these benefits. But the bottom line is this under this small. The share of Americans -- insurance is up. And the growth of health care costs is down. And that's good for our middle class and that's good for our fiscal future. -- that doesn't mean that all the problems and health care. Have been -- forever. Premiums are still rising for families who have insurance whether you get it through your employer or you buy it on your home that's been true. Every year for decades. But so far. Those premiums have risen more slowly since the Affordable Care Act passed than at any time in the past fifty years. It's also true that despite this law millions of Americans remain uncovered. In part because governor is in some states. For political reasons have deliberately refused to expand coverage under this law. We're gonna work on that. And -- work to get more Americans covered with each passing year. And while and remains true that. You'll still after. Change your coverage if you graduate from college were turned 46 years older blew over switch jobs or have a child. Just like you did before the Affordable Care Act was passed. You can now go to healthcare dot gov and use it year round to enroll when circumstances in your life change. So don't be Affordable Care Act hasn't completely fixed our long broken healthcare system. This law has made our health care system a lot better. A lot better. All told because of this -- millions of our fellow citizens know the economic security of health insurance. Who didn't just a few years ago. And that's something to be proud of regardless your politics. Or your feelings about me or your feelings about this law. That's something that's good for our economy. And it's good for our country. If there's no good reason to go back. Let me give you a sense of what this changes meant for millions of our fellow Americans. Just give -- a few examples. Sean Casey. From Solana beach California. Always made sure to cover his family on the private market. But. Preexisting medical conditions meant his annual -- was over 30000 dollars. The Affordable Care Act changed that. See if you have a preexisting condition like being a cancer survivor. Workers suffer chronic pain from a tough job or even if you've just been charged more for being a woman. You can no longer be charged more than anybody else. So this year the KC family's premiums won't fall from over 30000 dollars to under 9000 dollars. And I know this because -- took the time writing a letter. These savings he said -- almost offset the cost of our daughter's first your college. I'm a big believer in this legislation and it is removed a lot of complexity and frankly fear from my life please keep fighting for the AC it. What -- had to say it. -- goal is a bartender. From an all Pennsylvania. -- most folks are aware. That a bartender that's a job that usually doesn't offer health care. For years. -- went uninsured or underinsured. Often getting some health -- through -- local plant here. In November she bought -- plan. On the marketplace. In January and illness sent to senator to the hospital. And because her new plan cover a cat -- she would've otherwise been able to afford. Her doctor discovered that she also had ovarian cancer. And gave -- a chance to -- So she wrote me a letter to him she said. It's going to be a long tough road to kill this cancer. But I can walk that road knowing insurance. Isn't an issue. I won't be refused care I hope to send a follow up letter -- few months saying I'm free and clear of this disease but until then. I know I will be fighting just as you. Have been. Fighting for my life is a working American service. And after her first wellness visit -- -- her new insurance plan. -- marine from Fort Collins, Colorado shared with me. What it meant to her. After using my new insurance for the first time. You probably heard my sigh of relief from -- White House. I felt like a human being again. I felt that I had valued. -- won't be Affordable Care Act. -- Obama care. Is all about. Making sure that all of us. And all our fellow citizens can count on the security of health care when we get sick. But the work and dignity of every person is acknowledged and affirmed. The newly insured like -- what deserve that dignity. Working Americans like Jamie deserve that economic secured. Women. The -- Survivors. They deserve fair treatment and our health care system. All of which makes the constant politics around this law also troubling. Like every major piece of legislation from Social Security -- Medicare. The -- not perfect. We've got to make adjustments along the way. And the implementation. Especially -- the web site. Has -- -- sure problems we know something about that. And yes at times this reform has been contentious and confusing. And obviously it's amateur critics. As -- what change looks like in a democracy. Changes heart. Fixing what's broken is hard. Overcoming skepticism and fear. But something new is hard lot of times folks would prefer the doubled and out of the double they don't. But this law is doing what it's supposed to do. It's working. It's helping people from coast to coast. All of which makes the links to which critics have gone to this. Or undermine. The law or try to repeal the -- without offering any plausible alternative so hard to understand. I got a -- I don't get it. Why are folks working so hard. For people not to have health insurance. Why -- they so mad about the idea folks seven health insurance. Many of the tall tales that have been told about this long have been debunked. There are still no death panels. Armageddon has not arrived. Instead this law is helping millions of Americans. And in the coming years it will help millions more. I stood before. I will always work with anyone who's willing to make this law work even better. But the debate over repealing this law is over. Affordable Care Act is here to. And those. And those who -- their entire political agenda on repealing it. Have to explain the country why -- should go back to being uninsured. They should explain why Sean and is scrambling should go back to paying thousands -- And thousands of dollars more. They got to explain what. Why Marla doesn't deserve to feel like she's got value. They have to explain why we should go back to the -- -- when seniors pay more for the prescriptions. Or women had to pay more than men for coverage. Back to the days when Americans with pre existing conditions were -- -- -- make -- routinely be denied the economic security of health insurance. Because that's exactly what would happen if we repeal this law. Millions of people who now have health insurance would not happen. Seniors. Who have gotten discounts on a prescription drugs -- -- to pay more. Young people who were on the parents plan. With some may not have health insurance. -- -- in the end history is not kind. Those to those who would deny Americans are basic economic security. Nobody remembers well those who stand in the way of America's progress. Or people. And that's what Affordable Care Act represents. As messy as it's been sometimes as contentious has been sometimes it is progress. It is making sure that we are not the only advanced country on earth. -- doesn't make sure everybody. Has basic health care. And that's thanks in part to leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin. And all the members of congress who -- here today we could not have done it without them and they should be proud of what they've done but to be proud of what that. And it's also thanks to the often unheralded work of countless Americans. Who fought tirelessly to pass this law. And organized like crazy these past few months. To help their fellow citizens just get the information they needed to get -- That's why we're here today that's that's why. Seven point one million folks have health insurance because people got the word out. And -- we didn't make a hard sell we didn't have. Billions of dollars of you know commercials like some. Critics good. -- what we -- was. Look for yourself. See if it's good for your family. And a whole lot of people decided it was. Someone -- thank everybody who worked so hard. To make sure that. We arrived at this point today. Now want I want to make sure everybody understands. In the months and years ahead. I guarantee you there will be additional -- just implementing this law. There will be days when the web site but stumbles. I guarantee it. So press just don't want to anticipate. There will be some moment land the web sites down and I don't become a -- front pages. It's gonna happen -- won't be notes. -- -- -- -- parts of the law that will still need to be improved. And if we can stop re fighting all political battles with people as gridlocked. That we could actually make the -- work even better for everybody. And we're excited about the prospect development. We are game to know. But today should remind us that the goal we set for ourselves. That no American should go without the health care that -- -- The no family should be bankrupt. Because somebody in -- family gets. Because no parent should have to be worried about whether they can afford treatment. Because they're worried that they don't want that. After -- their children. The idea that everybody in this country can get decent health care. That goal is achievable. We are on our way. And all of us have the courage and the wisdom to keep working not. Against one another. Not the -- each other but for one another. And we won't just make progress on health care make progress on all the other worked the remains to create new opportunity for everybody who works for. -- make sure that this country. That we love lives up to its highest audience. That's what today's about. That's what. All the days -- -- As long as I'm president going to be about that's what we're going to be working towards. Thank you very much -- by god bless you god bless America. President Obama before a group of staff and supporters in the Rose Garden announcement of the goals of obamacare are being -- 67 point one. Million Americans have signed up. For health insurance before that last night's midnight. Deadline and that belongs to exactly what it is supposed to do egos in the deal lost I'm joined here by Matthew data ABC news political analyst you've worked in the white as you've worked on. A political campaigns I think one of the most interest -- things we saw on the president's speech right there. It was for a plea for the politics. To -- -- a debate about repeal is over. Wishful thinking. A little bit of wishful thinking on this I mean if you think about this the president does get it you happy to decree president ground to have some celebration and it's it's almost four years today when he signed this and 2010. He's only had that there's only been one another day in this whole thing -- the supreme court's that was constitutional. That he could celebrate a little bit of dancing in the end zone I think Republicans would be really Smart -- -- have -- touchdown don't ask for instant replay. Get off of repeal and basically try to argue over costs get off -- the whole idea this is this is the law of the land admit reality. And move on and try to argue over costs surrounding it. I think the president he still got some political pitfalls and -- we still -- that are still questions to be asked about this but this law's the law of the land and he's -- what he said it was gonna do. Even though the administration any administration as you know George. -- dot -- patent predicted the opposite he wouldn't get to seven million. They didn't think he was gonna happen they were surprised by the of course their pleas today Matthew dad thanks very much much more on this tonight on world news and Diane Sawyer always. And abcnews.com and I'll see tomorrow on GM. This has been a special. From ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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