Obama Speaks At Daily White House Briefing

Obama Speaks At Daily White House Briefing
(Washington, DC) -- President Obama is cheering new healthcare numbers. The President said eight million people have enrolled in health insurance through HealthCare.Gov, the federal website for the new health insurances exchanges. Obama noted that more than one-third of the new enrollees are under the age of 35. That is an important factor for health insurance companies as younger, healthier people will help pay for older folks who require more expensive care.

The President also said health care spending is rising more slowly than at any time in the past 50 years. HealthCare.gov saw a surge in enrollment after its disastrous launch in October. Obama said the healthcare reform law is clearly working and he chided congressional Republicans for continuing efforts to repeal it. He also criticized Republican-led states for refusing the federal Medicaid expansion. He said it would cost them little while helping millions of low income people.

President Obama continues pushing House Republican leaders on comprehensive immigration reform. In a White House news briefing, Obama noted that one year has passed since the Senate passed a sweeping, bipartisan immigration bill. He said it will help strengthen the economy and boost border protection. House Republican leaders don't like the Senate bill, saying it is too broad. The President argued that many Republicans in the House would support the Senate measure if GOP leaders will allow a vote on it.

President Obama is hopeful that diplomacy may help ease tensions in eastern Ukraine.  U.S. diplomats have struck some general agreements with Russia aimed at cooling things down in the region.  In a White House news briefing, the President said the U.S. will be watching the situation cautiously and hopefully.  He said Ukraine's sovereignty must be respected.  

The U.S. has accused Russia of provoking instability in eastern Ukraine after annexing Crimea.  The President said further sanctions are ready to go if Russia doesn't follow through on vows to reduce tensions.  He argued that existing sanctions are working and said Russia has a clear opportunity to take a "different course."