WASHINGTON, July 18 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said the Affordable Care Act is helping middle-class Americans, and blasted Republicans for attempts to block its implementation.
"Generally speaking, what we've seen is that healthcare costs have slowed drastically in a lot of areas since we passed the Affordable Care Act," Obama said Thursday at the White House. "We have a lot more work to do, but healthcare inflation isn't skyrocketing the way it was."
Noting that there are still many who are "rooting" for the law's failure, Obama said the benefits of the law are starting to become more apparent.
"You're getting better protections," he said. "You're getting more value for each dollar that you spend on your healthcare."
As an example, Obama said insurers must spend 80 percent of "every dollar collected" on efforts to benefit policyholders through efforts such as lowering premiums or providing better coverage.
He said $3.4 billion in rebates were mailed from insurers to policyholders last year because of a provision of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, that requires insurance companies to mail refunds to customers if they don't spend the majority of premium dollars on medical care and improving healthcare quality instead of administrative costs or overhead.
Obama said his administration would "blow through" the "political hay" some are trying to make of the law.
"If the folks who have been trying to make political hay out of this thing, if they had some better ideas, I've already told them I'm happy to hear them. But I haven't heard any so far," Obama said. "What I've heard is just the same old song and dance. We're just going to blow through that stuff and just keep on doing the right thing for the American people.
"The upshot is the American people deserve a fair shot," Obama said, flanked by families who received a refund because of the ACA.
"Our broken healthcare system threatened the hopes and the dreams of families and businesses across the country who feared that one illness or one accident could cost them everything they'd spent a lifetime building," Obama said. "And step by step, we're fixing that system."
The work would be hard, he said.
"This is a big country, and the healthcare industry is massive and there are tons of providers," he said. "And so as we implement, there are going to be glitches and there are going to be certain states that for political reasons are resisting implementation. And we're just steadily working through all that stuff."
The president's remarks came after the administration announced the delay of one key part of the law -- the requirement that larger employers provide healthcare for workers or pay a fine.
The Republican-led House passed a pair of bills Wednesday -- one to codify the delay in the employer mandate and the other to delay the individual mandate. Both bills passed with Democratic support.
Obama criticized House Republicans for relitigating the issue.
"Despite all the evidence that the law is working the way it was supposed to for middle-class Americans, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted -- for nearly the 40th time -- to dismantle it," Obama said. "We've got a lot of problems in this country, and there's a lot of work that Congress needs to do: get a farm bill passed, get immigration reform done, make sure we've got a budget in place that invests in our children and our future. And yet, instead we're refighting these old battles."