- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

President Obama gives his signature health law an “8” on a scale from 1 to 10, saying there is still room to improve the 2010 overhaul that’s been a political flashpoint since passage.

In an ABC News interview published Wednesday, Mr. Obama touted the Affordable Care Act’s progress in cutting the uninsured rate.

“Sixteen million people or more have health insurance that didn’t have it before,” he said.

He also said the law’s price tag has been cheaper than projected, although he’s upset that many states have not expanded the Medicaid program for the poor.

Obamacare calls on states to extend the federal-state program to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty law. The federal government picks up 100 percent of the expansion’s cost in 2014-2016, before scaling back its contribution to 90 percent in 2020 and beyond.

But the Supreme Court made expansion optional, so only 28 states and the District of Columbia have augmented their programs.

“We’re just seeing some stubbornness that’s really based on ideology, not on wise public health policy, that is preventing most people in most states from getting the Medicaid that would save the state money in the long term,” Mr. Obama told ABC.

The overall health law remains a key target for the Republican-majority Congress, which is hoping to leverage a budget tool known as “reconciliation” to pass a filibuster-proof repeal bill, forcing Mr. Obama to veto their will.

Also, the Supreme Court will rule by June whether the administration is unlawfully paying out exchange subsidies to at least 34 states that rely on the federal HealthCare.gov portal. Without the subsidies, the law would be much less attractive in those states, giving the GOP daylight to push their own health reforms.

Mr. Obama has said he is open to changes to his law — he’s signed some measures and delayed part of the law — but not the type of Republican-led bills that would scrap its mandates or otherwise hobble it.

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