Obama says Sanders' supporters helped
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[January 07, 2017]
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack
Obama said on Friday that criticism from the left wing of his own
Democratic Party helped feed into the unpopularity of Obamacare, his
signature healthcare reform law.
Obama has been spending part of his last two weeks in office urging
supporters to speak out against plans by Republicans - who will soon
control both the White House and Congress - to dismantle the 2010
Affordable Care Act.
At a town hall event with Vox Media, Obama acknowledged the politics
have been stacked against his reforms, mainly blaming Republicans who he
said refused to help make legislative fixes to Obamacare, which provides
subsidies for private insurance to lower-income Americans who do not
have healthcare plans at work.
But Obama also said Liberals like former Democratic presidential
candidate Senator Bernie Sanders had contributed to the program's
During Sanders' campaign for the presidential nomination, he proposed
replacing Obamacare with a government-run single-payer health insurance
system based on Medicare, the government plan for elderly and disabled
"In the 'dissatisfied' column are a whole bunch of Bernie Sanders
supporters who wanted a single-payer plan," Obama said in the interview.
"The problem is not that they think Obamacare is a failure. The problem
is that they don't think it went far enough and that it left too many
people still uncovered," Obama said.
Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Sanders, agreed that many people would
rather the government "take on the private insurance industry and the
pharmaceutical companies" and play a bigger role in providing
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President Barack Obama pauses during an interview with Vox at Blair
House in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
"There are many millions of Americans, including many of Bernie's
supporters, who donít understand why we are the only major country
on earth that does not provide healthcare as a right and they donít
understand why we pay more but get less for what we spend on
healthcare," Briggs said.
Polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation last month showed 46 percent
of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Obamacare, while 43
percent have a favorable view. Americans are also split on whether
the law should be repealed.
Trump and congressional Republicans have vowed to quickly repeal the
law, but Obama and Democrats have argued they should reveal a
replacement plan before dismantling the program.
More than 20 million previously uninsured Americans gained health
coverage through Obamacare, according to the White House. Coverage
was extended by expanding the Medicaid program for the poor and
through online exchanges where consumers can receive income-based
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Tom Brown)
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