BOSTON -- President Obama said the buck stops with him on the failures of healthcare.gov but accused Republican governors of working against the success of the Affordable Care Act.
Speaking to a crowd in Boston, at the historic hall where onetime Republican Gov. Mitt Romney signed that state’s 2006 healthcare reform into law, Obama pointed to his former rival as an example of bipartisan cooperation.
“You’ve got some Republican governors . . . who have put politics aside,” Obama said. “Unfortunately, there are others who are so locked into the politics of this thing that they won’t lift a finger to help their own people.”
If Republican governors and members of Congress would work with Democrats as Romney did, Obama said, “we’d be a lot further along.”
In citing the Massachusetts health law, Obama is asking both for bipartisan cooperation and for patience with the troubled start-up of his signature domestic policy.
Republicans are not inclined to give that leeway. Romney issued a statement Wednesday suggesting changes to Obamacare, including “carefully phasing it in to avoid the type of disruptions we are seeing nationally.”
Others contested the president’s contention that Republican governors are to blame for the implementation problems. Several GOP governors refuse to help implement the law or are declining the federal money for the healthcare law’s Medicaid expansion in their states.
"Every which way you look at it, Obamacare has proven to be a train wreck – with problems that run far beyond its AOL-era website,” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). “A law that was delivered through a pack of fictitious promises can't be saved by another misleading speech."
Obama argued that “Romneycare,” the model for his healthcare law, also experienced a slow rollout and then went on to success without interim adjustments.
Veterans of the Massachusetts effort say that in the first month of enrollment back in 2006, only 123 people signed up through the premium-paying marketplaces -- less than 1% of those who eventually signed up within the enrollment period.
Obama promised that his measure would flourish over the long haul as well. He had an enthusiastic reception from his Boston audience, except for two moments when chanting protesters broke in to demand that he deny approval to the controversial Keystone oil pipeline. “Stop the pipeline!” the protesters shouted.
“That’s the wrong rally!” Obama told them, before going on to use Romney as a means to critique Republican opponents.
“Mitt Romney and I ran a long and spirited campaign against each other,” Obama said, putting a friendly gloss on the acrimonious presidential race concluded just over a year ago.
“But I have always believed,” he said, “he did the right thing on healthcare.”
If other Republicans would put as much energy into making the law work as they do into attacking it, Obama said, “Americans would be better off.”