8 million Americans have signed up for health care, Obama says

BY Joshua Barajas  April 17, 2014 at 3:21 PM EDT


Video by PBS NewsHour

President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the number of Americans who have signed up for health care under the Affordable Care Act has grown to eight million, adding that 35 percent of enrollees are under the age of 35.

“This thing is working,” Obama said, speaking from a news conference at the White House briefing room.

These revised numbers add 500,000 to last week’s previous figure of 7.5 million Americans that enrolled as the health care law’s open enrollment period drew to a close.

As for sign-ups among younger people, 18- to 34-year-olds, the administration fell short of its initial goal of 38 percent.

Health and Human Services has said that young adults, who tend to be healthier and have lower medical costs, are key to the health care law’s success by offsetting the costs of older patients.

Mr. Obama adamantly defended his health care law against the Republican opposition, saying that the party refused to admit that the Affordable Care Act was working.

“The repeal debate is and should be over,” he said. “The American people don’t want us re-fighting the battles of the past five years.”

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigned last week, following months of criticism against the agency’s botched rollout of HealthCare.gov. Budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell is expected to take over.