President Defends Obamacare: ‘This Thing is Working’

Eight million people have signed up for healthcare through new insurance exchanges and the proportion of younger applicants has increased, President Barack Obama said Thursday.

The number exceeded expectations and offered new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead of the midterm elections.

An impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room offered the president an opportunity to trumpet the new figures, which beat initial projections by 1 million. With an eye toward November, Obama castigated Republicans for continuing to seek out every opportunity to thwart the Affordable Care Act.

“This thing is working,” Obama said of his signature domestic achievement.

Touting modest progress on another front, Obama said 35 percent of enrollees are under 35 years old, suggesting that in the final weeks of enrollment, the administration managed to sign up higher numbers of younger, healthier people who are critical to the law’s viability.

The most coveted age group comprises those between 18 and 34 years old. White House officials said that for the 36 states where the federal government is taking the lead, 28 percent are in that age group — a step in the right direction from March, when the administration said just 25 percent were 18 to 34.