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Obama Defends Health Care Law in Dallas


President Barack Obama walks in with volunteer Edna Pemberton before speaking with other volunteers who helped people enroll through the HealthCare.gov site at Temple Emanu-El, Nov. 6, 2013

President Barack Obama walks in with volunteer Edna Pemberton before speaking with other volunteers who helped people enroll through the HealthCare.gov site at Temple Emanu-El, Nov. 6, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to Dallas, Texas on Wednesday to urge more uninsured Americans to enroll in the federal government's health care coverage plan, also known as Obamacare.

He thanked volunteers from the Dallas Area Interfaith Coalition for helping uninsured Americans to sign up for the government's health care coverage.

"We're on the right side of history. It is the right thing to do. It is the right thing for our economy, our businesses and our families," said Obama.

As problems continue with the government's health care enrollment website, the president assured Americans the site will be working as it is supposed to by the end of the month.

"Nothing drives me more crazy than the fact that right now, there's great insurance to be had out there, choice and competition, where people can save money for a better product, except too many folks haven't been able to get through the website," Obama told the crowd.

The state of Texas has the highest ratio of uninsured Americans. It's also a Republican-controlled state that hasn't set up its own health care exchange, nor has it accepted federal funding under Obamacare to expand health care for the poor.

Political science professor Steven Greene at North Carolina State University thinks the president's decision to speak in Texas highlights some of the difficulties Obamacare has faced amid a lack of cooperation from a number of Republican-controlled states.

"They were simply not prepared for the volume of work they were going to have to do to set up these so-called exchanges for all of these various states which refused to do it on their own," said Greene.

The president has been criticized for earlier statements that people who liked their current health care plan could keep it. Those statements have since proven untrue, as health insurance companies have dropped some people's coverage plans that don't meet the new government requirements. Greene says the administration needs to get a handle on this "political problem," as he calls it.

"It seems that it probably would have been politically better to be more forthright with people and make it clear that, yeah, there are going to be some losers in this change, and some people are going to have to pay significantly more for their health care insurance," said Greene.

For now, Obamacare's problems have not hurt Democrats as much as Republicans predicted. Tuesday’s elections were generally a success for Democrats, as the party won major victories in Virginia's governor race and New York City's mayoral race, although possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie was reelected as governor in New Jersey.
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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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