President Barack Obama speaks at the podium at Faneuil Hall. Credit: Jeremiah Robinson/Metro
President Barack Obama was welcomed by tremendous applause today at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall, where he defended the federal government’s Affordable Care Act amid mounting criticism over Healthcare.gov website glitches.
After an introduction by Gov. Deval Patrick, whom Obama referred to as one of the "best" governors, the president referred to Mayor Thomas Menino as “one of America’s best mayors."
He also acknowledged the city's passionate Red Sox fans, who were just hours away from Game Six of the World Series, saying, “I am well aware that the presidential visit is not the biggest thing going on in Boston. ... I tried to grow a beard, but Michelle, she wasn't having it."
Within moments, protesters began chanting about energy issues, yelling, among other things, "Stop the pipeline!" and "Stop climate change for our generation" before they were ushered out.
The outburst was met by boos.
“OK, we’re talking about health care today. … That was the wrong rally. ... We had the climate change rally back in the summer. This is the health care rally,” the president responded.
Transitioning to his signature health care law, Obama said there is "no denying" that the website is too slow, and that "too many people have gotten stuck."
Earlier today, the U.S. government's top health official, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, said that private insurance companies, not the new healthcare law, are to blame for hundreds of thousands of people losing their coverage in the past few weeks.
Sebelius called the debut of the Affordable Care Act a "debacle" as she sought to assure skeptical lawmakers at a congressional hearing that the administration will fix technical flaws with the website.
"The website hasn’t worked the way it’s supposed to … as a consequence a lot of people haven’t had a chance to see just how good the prices for these quality (services) really are,” Obama said.
“And I’m not happy about it. ... There is no excuse for it.”
Obama went on to slam opponents of the Affordable Care Act, saying that "providing people with health care should be a no-brainer," and that if anyone has any better ideas, "I'd be happy to listen."
He wrapped up his remarks by saying, "We are in this together, and we're going to see it through."
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