By Justin Sink - 12/03/13 03:21 PM EST
President Obama declared Tuesday that ObamaCare "is working" and that "we're not going back," as the White House looked to reboot its efforts to sell Americans on the president's signature healthcare law.
"If I've got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, that's what we'll do," Obama said.
"We're not repealing it as long as I'm president," he added. "I want everybody to be clear about that. We'll make it work."
The president, flanked by supporters who had benefited from aspects of the law, vacillated between a defense of his much-criticized program and a sales pitch intended to highlight some of ObamaCare's benefits for ordinary families.
Obama shared stories of individuals who had been helped by provisions of the law that provided them with free preventive care, and allowed those younger than 26 to remain on their parents' health insurance.
Acknowledging that the benefits of the program had "gotten lost a little bit," the president urged attendees to tell their friends and families about the law's success stories.
"It working better now, and it's just going to keep on working better over time," Obama said.
In his remarks, the president shied away from directly addressing more recent critiques of the ObamaCare website, including reports that the portal was continuing to provide insurers with error-riddled enrollment information. Obama did say that as new problems arose, the administration would address them.
"Whatever comes up, we're going to fix it," he said, adding later that the White House had "learned not to make wild promises about how perfectly smooth it's going to be."
The president also chastised critics of the law, saying Republicans "haven't presented an alternative" that would address flaws of the pre-ObamaCare system. He singled out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), saying the Republican leader "refused to answer" when asked what his alternate proposal was.
"He just repeated 'repeal' over and over and over again," Obama said.
Earlier Tuesday, McConnell said the president's "campaign-style event wouldn’t solve the myriad problems facing consumers under ObamaCare."
“The American people have been learning about the impact ObamaCare will have on individuals and families in the form of higher premiums, disrupted insurance, and lost jobs — more broken promises from the administration. And they’re becoming increasingly aware of the fact ObamaCare is broken beyond repair," McConnell said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that the president's event was the first of many in a "renewed effort to refocus the public and the public's attention on the benefits of the law."
Carney said that in the coming days, the president and other White House officials would talk about existing benefits under ObamaCare, including insurance plans mandating free preventive care, ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and the curbed growth in healthcare costs.
The White House spokesman said that sales effort would use "a number of different venues," including press events and Internet advertising campaigns.
"This is an opportunity now that the website is functioning effectively for the vast majority of users and we are seeing high volume, and high volume being handled effectively by the website, and people enrolling that it's an opportune time to talk about, again, the actual benefits that are provided by the law," Carney said.