WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama used a short-notice press conference to criticize Republican attempts to repeal his Affordable Care Act and release updated data about the recent open enrollment period.
"As more data comes in, we now know that the number of Americans who've signed up in the marketplace has grown to 8 million," the president announced during a Thursday afternoon briefing from the White House.
He added that 35 percent of those who signed up through the federal marketplace are under age 35.
"This thing is working," he asserted, citing the enrollment data and revised Congressional Budget Office predictions.
He continued, "I find it strange that Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place it has always been."
Obama argued that the "50 or so votes" Republicans have used to try to repeal the health care law could have been used on initiatives to create jobs or otherwise work on the economy -- which the President said was the top issue for citizens.
"The point is," he said, "the repeal debate is and should be over."
Following his written statement, the president took questions from reporters. The first question was about the Ukraine and Obama said he hopes Russia lives up to the agreement Secretary of State John Kerry and other diplomats reached in Geneva -- but added that Russia's previous actions give him concern.
Obama says his hope is that Russia will follow through in the next several days on promises made at its meeting Thursday in Geneva with leaders from the United States, the European Union and Ukraine. The meeting was an attempt to find a way to reduce tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
He also took a moment to send condolences to victims of a South Korean ferry disaster and says he will pay tribute during a visit to the country next week.
Obama said the United States has an "unwavering commitment" to its ally South Korea in good times and bad. He says he will underscore that when he is in the country for a previously planned trip.
He says U.S. Navy personnel are at the site where the ferry sank off South Korea's southern coast. He sent condolences to the entire country, especially families of the 20 killed Wednesday.