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  • President Obama: Good morning, everybody.

  • At midnight last night, for the first time in 17 years,

  • Republicans in Congress chose to shut down

  • the federal government.

  • Let me be more specific: One faction, of one party,

  • in one house of Congress, in one branch of government,

  • shut down major parts of the government --

  • all because they didn't like one law.

  • This Republican shutdown did not have to happen.

  • But I want every American to understand why it did happen.

  • Republicans in the House of Representatives refused

  • to fund the government unless we defunded or dismantled

  • the Affordable Care Act.

  • They've shut down the government over an ideological crusade

  • to deny affordable health insurance

  • to millions of Americans.

  • In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.

  • And many representatives, including an increasing number

  • of Republicans, have made it clear that had they been allowed

  • by Speaker Boehner to take a simple up or down vote

  • on keeping the government open, with no partisan strings

  • attached, enough votes from both parties would have kept

  • the American people's government open and operating.

  • We may not know the full impact of this Republican shutdown

  • for some time.

  • It will depend on how long it lasts.

  • But we do know a couple of things.

  • We know that the last time Republicans shut down

  • the government in 1996, it hurt our economy.

  • And unlike 1996, our economy is still recovering

  • from the worst recession in generations.

  • We know that certain services and benefits that America's

  • seniors and veterans and business owners depend on

  • must be put on hold.

  • Certain offices,

  • along with every national park and monument,

  • must be closed.

  • And while last night, I signed legislation

  • to make sure our 1.4 million active-duty military

  • are paid through the shutdown,

  • hundreds of thousands of civilian workers --

  • many still on the job, many forced to stay home --

  • aren't being paid,

  • even if they have families to support

  • and local businesses that rely on them.

  • And we know that the longer this shutdown continues,

  • the worse the effects will be.

  • More families will be hurt.

  • More businesses will be harmed.

  • So, once again, I urge House Republicans

  • to reopen the government,

  • restart the services Americans depend on,

  • and allow the public servants who have been sent home

  • to return to work.

  • This is only going to happen when Republicans realize

  • they don't get to hold the entire economy hostage

  • over ideological demands.

  • As I've said repeatedly, I am prepared to work

  • with Democrats and Republicans

  • to do the things we need to do

  • to grow the economy and create jobs,

  • and get our fiscal house in order over the long run.

  • Although I should add this shutdown isn't about deficits,

  • or spending, or budgets.

  • After all, our deficits are falling

  • at the fastest pace in 50 years.

  • We've cut them in half since I took office.

  • In fact, many of the demands the Republicans are now making

  • would actually raise our deficits.

  • No, this shutdown is not about deficits,

  • it's not about budgets.

  • This shutdown is about rolling back our efforts

  • to provide health insurance to folks who don't have it.

  • It's all about rolling back the Affordable Care Act.

  • This, more than anything else,

  • seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days.

  • I know it's strange that one party would make keeping people

  • uninsured the centerpiece of their agenda,

  • but that apparently is what it is.

  • And of course, what's stranger still is that shutting down

  • our government doesn't accomplish their stated goal.

  • The Affordable Care Act is a law that passed the House;

  • it passed the Senate.

  • The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.

  • It was a central issue in last year's election.

  • It is settled, and it is here to stay.

  • And because of its funding sources,

  • it's not impacted by a government shutdown.

  • And these Americans are here with me today because,

  • even though the government is closed,

  • a big part of the Affordable Care Act

  • is now open for business.

  • And for them, and millions like them,

  • this is a historic day for a good reason.

  • It's been a long time coming, but today,

  • Americans who have been forced to go without insurance can now

  • visit healthcare.gov and enroll in affordable new plans

  • that offer quality coverage.

  • That starts today.

  • And people will have six months to sign up.

  • So over the next six months,

  • people are going to have the opportunity --

  • in many cases, for the first time in their lives --

  • to get affordable coverage that they desperately need.

  • Now, of course, if you're one of the 85 percent of Americans

  • who already have health insurance,

  • you don't need to do a thing.

  • You're already benefiting from new benefits and protections

  • that have been in place for some time under this law.

  • But for the 15 percent of Americans

  • who don't have health insurance,

  • this opportunity is life-changing.

  • Let me just tell folks a few stories

  • that are represented here today.

  • A few years ago, Amanda Barrett left her job in New York

  • to take care of her parents.

  • And for a while, she had temporary insurance

  • that covered her multiple sclerosis.

  • But when it expired,

  • many insurers wouldn't cover her because of her MS.

  • And she ended up paying $1,200 a month.

  • That's nowhere near affordable.

  • So starting today, she can get covered for much less,

  • because today's new plan can't use your medical history

  • to charge you more than anybody else.

  • Sky-high premiums once forced Nancy Beigel

  • to choose between paying her rent

  • or paying for health insurance.

  • She's been uninsured ever since.

  • So she pays all of her medical bills out of pocket,

  • puts some on her credit card, making them even harder to pay.

  • Nancy says, "They talk about those

  • who fall through the cracks.

  • I fell through the cracks 10 years ago

  • and I've been stuck there ever since."

  • Well, starting today, Nancy can get covered

  • just like everybody else.

  • Trinace Edwards was laid off from her job a year ago today.

  • Six months ago, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

  • She couldn't afford insurance on the individual market,

  • so she hasn't received treatment yet.

  • Her daughter Lenace, a student at the University of Maryland,

  • is considering dropping out of school

  • to help pay her mom's bills.

  • Well, starting today, thanks to the Affordable Care Act,

  • Trinace can get covered without forcing her daughter

  • to give up on her dreams.

  • So if these stories of hardworking Americans

  • sound familiar to you, well, starting today,

  • you and your friends and your family and your coworkers

  • can get covered, too.

  • Just visit healthcare.gov,

  • and there you can compare insurance plans, side by side,

  • the same way you'd shop for a plane ticket on Kayak

  • or a TV on Amazon.

  • You enter some basic information,

  • you'll be presented with a list of quality,

  • affordable plans that are available in your area,

  • with clear descriptions of what each plan covers,

  • and what it will cost.

  • You'll find more choices, more competition,

  • and in many cases, lower prices --

  • most uninsured Americans will find that they can get covered

  • for $100 or less.

  • And you don't have to take my word for it.

  • Go on the website, healthcare.gov,

  • check it out for yourself.

  • And then show it to your family and your friends

  • and help them get covered,

  • just like mayors and churches and community groups

  • and companies are already fanning out to do

  • across the country.

  • And there's a hotline where you can apply over the phone

  • and get help with the application,

  • or just get questions that you have answered by real people,

  • in 150 different languages.

  • So let me give you that number.

  • The number is 1-800-318-2596 --

  • 1-800-318-2596.

  • Check out healthcare.gov.

  • Call that number.

  • Show your family and friends how to use it.

  • And we can get America covered, once and for all,

  • so that the struggles that these folks have gone through

  • and millions around the country have gone through for years

  • finally get addressed.

  • And let me just remind people

  • why I think this is so important.

  • I heard a striking statistic yesterday --

  • if you get cancer,

  • you are 70 percent more likely to live another five years

  • if you have insurance than if you don't.

  • Think about that.

  • That is what it means to have health insurance.

  • Set aside the issues of security and finances

  • and how you're impacted by that,

  • the stress involved in not knowing whether or not

  • you're going to have health care.

  • This is life-or-death stuff.

  • Tens of thousands of Americans die each year

  • just because they don't have health insurance.

  • Millions more live with the fear

  • that they'll go broke if they get sick.

  • And today, we begin to free millions

  • of our fellow Americans from that fear.

  • Already, millions of young adults have been able

  • to stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26.

  • Millions of seniors already have gotten a discount

  • on their prescription medicines.

  • Already millions of families have actually received rebates

  • from insurance companies that didn't spend enough

  • on their health care.

  • So this law means more choice, more competition,

  • lower costs for millions of Americans.

  • And this law doesn't just mean economic security

  • for our families.

  • It means we're finally addressing the biggest drivers

  • of our long-term deficits.

  • It means a stronger economy.

  • Remember most Republicans have made a whole bunch

  • of predictions about this law that haven't come true.

  • There are no "death panels."

  • Costs haven't skyrocketed;

  • they're growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.

  • The last three years

  • since I signed the Affordable Care Act into law

  • are the three slowest rates of health spending growth

  • on record.

  • And contrary to Republican claims,

  • this law hasn't "destroyed" our economy.

  • Over the past three and a half years,

  • our businesses have created 7.5 million new jobs.

  • Just today, we learned that our manufacturers are growing

  • at the fastest rate in two and a half years.

  • They have factored in the Affordable Care Act.

  • They don't think it's a problem.

  • What's weighing on the economy is not the Affordable Care Act,

  • but the constant series of crises and the unwillingness

  • to pass a reasonable budget by a faction of the Republican Party.

  • Now, like every new law, every new product rollout,

  • there are going to be some glitches in the signup process

  • along the way that we will fix.

  • I've been saying this from the start.

  • For example, we found out

  • that there have been times this morning

  • where the site has been running more slowly

  • than it normally will.

  • The reason is because more than one million people visited

  • healthcare.gov before 7:00 in the morning.

  • To put that in context, there were five times more users

  • in the marketplace this morning than have ever been

  • on Medicare.gov at one time.

  • That gives you a sense of how important this is to millions

  • of Americans around the country, and that's a good thing.

  • And we're going to be speeding things up in the next few hours