WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Obama is warming up to the term “Obamacare.”
The term, coined by Republicans deriding his health care reform plan, was actually embraced by the president during Wednesday night’s presidential debate. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney immediately apologized to the president after using the term when talking about programs he’d cut, but was relieved when Obama said the name was OK.
“Obamacare is on my list — I apologize Mr. President, I use that term with all respect,” Romney said.
“I like it!” Obama quickly replied, which earned some laughter from the audience.
“Good, so I’ll get rid of that,” Romney then responded.
Later, while defending his health care reform plan, Obama again announced his approval for the nickname.
“Ironically, if you repeal ‘Obamacare,’ and I have become fond of this term ‘Obamacare,’ if you repeal it, what happens right away is those seniors are going to pay $600 more in prescription care, they’re now going to be having to pay co-pays for basic checkups that can keep them healthier, and the primary beneficiaries of that repeal are insurance companies that are estimated to gain billions of dollars back when they arent making seniors any healthier,” Obama said.
Obama added that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesn’t have a plan if he becomes president if he repeals the health care law.
The two men disagreed over Medicare, a flash point since Romney placed Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan on his ticket.
The president repeatedly described Romney’s plan as a “voucher program” that would raise out-of-pocket costs on seniors.
He continued, directly addressing the voters at home: “If you’re 54 or 55 you might want to listen because this will affect you.”
Romney said he doesn’t support any changes for current retirees or those close to retirement.
“If you’re 60 or 60 and older you don’t need to listen further,” he said, but he contended that fundamental changes are needed to prevent the system from becoming insolvent as millions of baby boom generation Americans become eligible.
Romney also made a detailed case for repealing Obamacare, the name attached to the health care plan that Obama pushed through Congress in 2010. “It has killed jobs,” he said, and argued that the best approach is to “do what we did in my state.”
Though he didn’t say so, when he was governor Massachusetts passed legislation that required residents to purchase coverage — the so-called individual mandate that conservatives and he oppose on a national level.
Romney also said that Obamacare would cut $716 billion from Medicare over the next decade.
The president said the changes were part of a plan to lengthen the program’s life, and he added that AARP, the seniors lobby, supports it.
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