President Barack Obama says he’d be happy to get rid of Obamacare — if Republicans can replace it with something better.
Addressing his comments to Republicans during an interview with Vox Friday morning, Obama said, “If you can in fact put a plan together that is demonstrably better than what Obamacare is doing, I will publicly support repealing Obamacare and replacing it with your plan.”
“I don’t have pride of authorship on this thing,” the president added. “I’m not the one who named it Obamacare!”
Obama went on to express deep skepticism about whether the GOP could in fact come up with something better. “I suspect that will not happen,” he said. “If you want to provide coverage to people, then there’s certain baseline things you have to do.”
“Number one, health care’s not cheap,” Obama said, adding that to make it affordable for many people, “the government’s gotta pay some money.” He also said that to ensure that people with preexisting conditions could affordably get insurance, some regulations were necessary.
“What you’re gonna see now, now that you have a Republican president-elect and you have Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress, is that all the promises they made about how they can do it better, cheaper, everybody’s gonna be satisfied — are gonna be really hard to meet. … There are real lives at stake.”
The president argued that repeal and delay would cut off a necessary exchange of ideas
The interview reaffirmed Obama’s long-expressed frustrations about what he sees as a lack of constructive Republican engagement during the health reform debate back at the beginning of his presidency.
“From the earliest negotiations in 2009 and 2010, I made clear to Republicans that if they had ideas that they could show would work better than the ideas we had thought of, I would be happy to incorporate them into the law,” he said. “And rather than offer ideas, what we got was a big no — we just don’t want to do this.”
Obama said the law has fallen short of his expectations in certain ways, and that he’s interested to hear what changes Republicans will suggest. But his own critique is the opposite of conservatives’ — that the law did not spend enough federal money to help Americans buy insurance.
“Probably my main criticism of the Affordable Care Act,” Obama said later in the interview, is that “the subsidies aren’t as high as they probably should be for a lot of working people.”