Scant mention of ObamaCare at presser

ObamaCare received scant mention at President Obama's press conference Tuesday, despite sustained problems with the law's online enrollment portal.

The minor, offhand references to the healthcare law highlight how much the ongoing fiscal stalemate has seized Washington's attention and distracted from the rocky debut of ObamaCare's exchanges.

The dearth of media questions about the Affordable Care Act is even more surprising given that attempts to thwart the law ushered in the shutdown to begin with. 

 

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Instead, the press focused on the possibility of a short-term deal to reopen the government and avoid a debt default. 


Obama said he was amenable to a temporary bargain that would allow room for a wider fiscal negotiations with Republicans.

The president emphasized that he wants to keep lines of communication open with the GOP, even if it means examining ObamaCare "line by line."

"I'm happy to sit down with them for as many hours as they want," Obama said.

"I won't let them gut a law that is going to make sure tens of millions of people actually get healthcare, but I'm happy to talk about it."

Obama sarcastically referred to the reform as "grand socialist scheme" in a calling for the GOP to compromise.

"We've got to … get back to the point where everybody understands that in negotiations, there is give and there is take," Obama said.

"You don't suggest that somehow a healthcare bill that you don't agree with is destroying the republic or is a grand socialist scheme.

"If you disagree with certain aspects of it, tell us what you disagree with and let's work on it."

No reporter asked about the insurance marketplaces, which have posed major problems for users since they opened for business last Tuesday.

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) jabbed the press for failing the raise the issue, noting that "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart grilled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the law Monday night.

"You know who asked some tough questions about ObamaCare? Comedy Central," tweeted Rory Cooper.

 The government shutdown is entering its second week after Republicans refused to approve spending bills unless they undercut the healthcare law.  

Focus has shifted from that debate as the shutdown continues and the need to raise the debt ceiling draws nearer.