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Amid delays, Obama reassures Americans about health law

Amid reports of more delays and expected glitches in the rollout of the new online Obamacare marketplaces, President Obama assured voters in Maryland Thursday that if they attempt to sign up for health insurance on the marketplaces themselves, they'll be satisfied.

"You don't need to listen to the politicians, you don't need to listen to me, just go check it out yourself," Mr. Obama said at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md. "Make up your own mind whether this works for you."

Open enrollment on the state-based, online marketplaces is slated to begin on Oct. 1. Over the next six months, seven million people are expected to sign up for insurance for 2014 via the exchanges. The success of the exchanges, however, depends on whether those people -- particularly young, healthy people -- actually sign up.

The president's appearance at the Maryland community college was part of the administration's ongoing efforts to encourage participation on the exchanges, boost the law's low approval ratings, and counter the Republican Party's zealous opposition to the law.

Obama ridicules "desperate" GOP arguments against Obamacare

"The Republican Party has just spun itself up over this issue," Mr. Obama said, lampooning politicians for their extreme Obamacare predictions. Without mentioning her by name, he teased Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., for urging her congressional colleagues earlier this year to "repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens."

"We still have women, we still have children, we still have senior citizens," Mr. Obama said. "All of this would be funny if it wasn't so crazy."

While the law may not be literally killing anyone, Mr. Obama acknowledged the exchange rollout won't be completely flawless.

"Somewhere around the country there's going to be a computer glitch and the website's not working quite the way it's supposed to," he said. "That happens whenever you roll out a new program." However, he added, "Most of the stories you'll hear about how Obamacare can't work... [are] not based in facts."

The reports of real delays and problems, however, continue to trickle out. Small businesses looking for insurance on the exchanges will be able to compare their options online but will initially have to mail or fax in their applications, the Associated Press is reporting. Additionally, the Spanish-language version of the website won't be ready for open enrollment for another few weeks.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus called the latest development "unbelievable."

"Did anyone tell the president that his administration is delaying another piece of Obamacare before he tried swindling the American people again?" Priebus said in a statement.

Some state-run exchanges -- such as the exchange in the District of Columbia -- are also announcing delays.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in a recent report that the IRS has failed to account for about $67 million spent on indirect Obamacare implementation costs from 2010 through 2012, which went to expenses like IT support and workspace costs.

Mr. Obama also acknowledged Thursday that there are policies in the Affordable Care Act that are unpopular, such as the individual mandate, but suggested that popular opinion would turn on those matters.

"Most people who can afford health insurance now have to take responsibility to buy health insurance or pay a penalty," he said. "The reason we do that is, when uninsured people who can afford to buy health insurance don't... and then they show up at the emergency room, who do you think pays for that? You do, in the form of higher premiums."

Mr. Obama said Republicans have been more interested in dismantling the law than improving it, but he added, "I believe eventually they'll come around because Medicare and Social Security faced the same kind of criticism... A few years from now when people are using this to get coverage ... there are going to be a whole bunch of folks who say, 'Yeah, I always thought that provision was excellent, I voted for that thing.'"

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