With the problem-plagued roll-out of his health care reform law under growing scrutiny, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that a similar law enacted by his 2012 Republican opponent worked well — and that Obamacare eventually will, too.
“Mitt Romney and I ran a long and spirited campaign against one another, but I’ve always believed that when he was governor here in Massachusetts, he did the right thing on health care,” Obama told supporters at the storied Faneuil Hall, where Romney signed Massachusetts’ universal health care measure into law seven years ago. “It’s because you guys had a proven model that we built the Affordable Care Act on this template of proven bipartisan success. Your law was the model for the nation’s law.
“Health care reform in this state was a success,” Obama said. “That doesn’t mean it was perfect right away.”
The roll-out of the Affordable Care Act has been buffeted by significant technical problems with the Healthcare.gov insurance exchange website, problems Obama acknowledged and said would soon be fixed.
“There’s no denying it, the website is too slow, people are getting stuck, and I’m not happy about it,” he said. “I take full responsibility for making sure it gets fixed as soon as possible.”
But, he added, “I know these marketplaces will work because the Massachusetts model has worked.”
Before Obama began his speech, Romney, who struggled mightily during the campaign to draw distinctions between his reform law and the president’s, said Obama is learning the wrong lessons from Massachusetts’ success.
“A plan crafted to fit the unique circumstances of a single state should not be grafted onto the entire country,” Romney said in a statement. “Had President Obama actually learned the lessons of Massachusetts health care, millions of Americans would not lose the insurance they were promised they could keep, millions more would not see their premiums skyrocket, and the installation of the program would not have been a frustrating embarrassment.”
Since Healthcare.gov’s Oct. 1 launch, serious glitches in the site have frustrated users trying to sign up to purchase health insurance, or caused the site to crash altogether. The administration has responded by calling in tech experts to fix the site, while delaying implementation of the deadline by which most individuals must have applied for health insurance in order to avoid a tax penalty. Secretary of Heath and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius apologized for the flawed roll-out during a congressional hearing earlier Wednesday, telling members of Congress to “hold me accountable for this debacle.”