President Obama spoke to Democratic lawmakers today, advising them to improve the public’s perception of the Affordable Care Act as Republicans try to dismantle it in the coming months.
Obama praised some successes of the statute while admitting the rollout has not been perfect, according to Congressman Richard Neal, who attended the meeting with the president.
“He acknowledged the problems and, by the way, put some of the responsibility on himself in terms of how it was sold to the American people,” Neal said during an interview on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio. “But nonetheless [he] highlighted the many achievements that come with it.”
Neal, a ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the president highlighted the administration’s failure to communicate the benefits of Obamacare to Americans.
Neal pointed out that some of the people who benefit from Obamacare were ones who voted for Donald Trump.
“[Obama] did point out that there was a messaging issue,” Neal said. “The very people that, in the end, voted for Donald Trump in Kentucky are the likely beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act.”
Many of the states that gain the most from the Affordable Care Act voted for Trump, who campaigned on a platform of repealing it. Residents in Florida, for example, will receive $5.2 billion in Obamacare tax credits for 2016, according to the L.A. Times.
Trump won Florida by 1.2 percent.
Now, Democrats like Neal say they’re concerned about the future of healthcare under the new administration.
“There are 20 million more Americans to have health insurance [under the Affordable Care Act],” Neal said. “The stake here is enormous.”
The congressman echoed Obama’s concerns about perceptions of the Affordable Care Act, saying individual elements remain popular despite dissatisfaction with the whole package.
“The Affordable Care Act has had many, many parts that poll very popularly when they’re singled out or broken out from the overall ACA,” Neal said. “But there is still work to do.”
Congressman Richard Neal is the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee. He represents the state’s first district. To listen to his interview on BPR in its entirety, click on the audio link above.