Graham: Defund Obamacare or end Congress' exemption - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Graham: Defund Obamacare or end Congress' exemption

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WASHINGTON (WCIV/AP) -- Sen. Lindsey Graham last week argued for the defunding of the Affordable Care Act and for the elimination of Congress' exemption from it.

On Wednesday, Graham said he thought Congress should face the same medical dilemmas as many Americans under the law commonly known as Obamacare.

"America will suffer under Obamacare and Congress should be no different. I support the Vitter Amendment to end the special Obamacare exemption and force Congress to live under this disaster of a law just like every other American," he said Wednesday.

Two days later, after a House budget bill that stripped funding for the landmark health care law was knocked down by the Senate, Graham said he was among the Senate minority to vote to defund Obamacare.

"Today, I proudly voted to defund Obamacare, and I am proud that every Senate Republican has united in support of the House-passed defund Obamacare provision.  I only wish that more Senate Democrats, many of whom were responsible for Obamacare's passage into law, would have voted with us," Graham said.

"With Democrats in control of the Senate, we needed Democrats to join with the American people who want Obamacare stopped in its tracks.  Based upon the Democrats unanimous votes in support of funding Obamacare, they must not have gotten the message."

But President Barack Obama has, in recent days, mocked the GOP for their end-of-days predictions on the activation of the health exchange portion of the law.

"The Republican party has just spun itself up around this issue," Obama said. "And the fact is the Republicans' biggest fear at this point is not that Affordable Care Act will fail. What they're worried about is it's going to succeed."

House Republicans are inserting provisions that undermine the health care law into a short-term spending measure needed to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1 and into legislation that would increase the government's borrowing ability, which the Treasury says will hit its limit in mid-October.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday that Obama is trying to sell the law to a skeptical public.

"It must be frustrating for the president that folks seem to keep tuning out all the happy talk anyway," McConnell said. "This law is a mess. It needs to go. It's way past time to start over."

Obama won loud applause from a friendly audience at Prince George's Community College in the Washington suburbs when he vowed that he wouldn't let Republicans block the law. "We are going to see it through. The Affordable Care Act is here," Obama said.

The six-month enrollment period for the exchanges starts Tuesday, with consumers in most of the country able to comparison shop between plans online. The Obama administration needs millions of Americans - especially young, healthy people - to sign up in order to keep costs low for everyone.

Obama acknowledged there would be glitches in getting the exchanges up and running, and even as he was speaking administration officials were quietly telling key interest groups to expect initial problems signing up online for coverage. Small businesses will not be able to enroll online starting Oct. 1 when new health insurance markets go live and will have to enroll by paper, and the Spanish-language version of its healthcare.gov website will be not be ready to handle enrollments for a few weeks. An estimated 10 million Latinos are eligible for coverage.

Three-and-a-half years after Obama signed the bill into law, his nearly hourlong speech showed he's still having to educate consumers about what will be available to them and convince them to sign up. He predicted success once people learn they can save money or get insurance for the first time.

"Even if you didn't vote for me, I'll bet you'll sign up for that health care plan," Obama said.

Obama said Republicans want "to shut this thing down before people find out that they like it."

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