After successfully battling melanoma and thyroid cancer, “Extra” correspondent Jerry Penacoli got a rare opportunity today to thank President Obama for saving his life with the Affordable Care Act.
The President’s health care act allowed Jerry to receive the treatment he needed without draining his life savings. Jerry told Mr. Obama, “Thank you, you pretty much saved my finances and you saved my life.”
President Obama replied, “Jerry, I know the story, of you… battling courageously against an illness and then you hitting lifetime limits potentially in insurance. One of the goals for the Affordable Care Act was not just to help people get insurance who didn’t have it, it was to give better protections for people who already had insurance.”
The President continued, “You were a perfect example of somebody who could be caught with debilitating bills or alternatively not being able to get the care you needed, so a lot of the protections essentially made existing insurance better for a lot of people.”
Keep reading for more from Jerry’s exclusive with President Obama.
Obama on His Critics:
The Affordable Care Act: The Affordable Care Act could be unraveled in an upcoming Supreme Court vote. The President shared this message: “Despite all the politics and noise around it, what’s happened now is millions have health insurance who didn’t have it before, people who did have health insurance before like you, Jerry, are much more secure in the insurance that they’ve got, it’s costing less than anybody expected, it’s working well.”
President Obama also told Jerry, “I get ten letters a night out of the 40,000 letters and emails and messages that we get, some of them are just saying thank you for something, some of them are saying you're an idiot…” Jerry asked, “Do you answer the ones who call you an idiot? President Obama quickly answered, “I do!” Jerry asked, “Are they surprised?" President Obama responded, “I think sometimes they are… I will tell you the number of stories I've gotten like yours… it’s made a difference in a lot of people's lives.”
Daughters Sasha and Malia:
As Jerry and the President strolled through the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Obama also talked about his teenage daughters, Malia and Sasha. “The truth is the girls are wonderful. They work hard, they work a lot harder than I ever did when I was a kid… most importantly, they’re kind, they’re respectful, they don’t have an attitude. The President credited Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, with helping provide a “normal” upbringing. “Partly maybe because my mother-in-law was here and we said we don’t want to see any attitude out of them, and they’ve been terrific. They do think that their dad is sometimes a little embarrassing.”
His Final Year in Office:
With his days in the White House winding down, Mr. Obama told Jerry he will take some of the furniture with him when he leaves office. “A bunch of the furniture in this house, we bought… so there’s a bunch of furniture here that’s ours… sometimes people are surprised to hear we pay for all our groceries!” The President admitted he will miss 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. “It’s a home inside this incredible, historical, monument, and we are extraordinarily privileged to be here.” The first thing they will do when they leave the White House? “I think it’s fair to say that it won’t be up to me, it will be up to Michelle.”
The NBA and Stanley Cup Finals:
President Obama is known for being an avid sports fan, but he’s not ready to take sides in the NBA championship. “I think both teams are playing incredible basketball, Lebron is playing unbelievably, but Steph Curry, even though he’s had a couple of bad games, I’ve met him, he’s a wonderful young man, a deserving MVP. My sense is he’s gonna pick it back up, so who knows, but I’m sure enjoying watching it.” As for the NHL finals, there is no question of who the former Senator from Illinois is rooting for. “Blackhawks!” Jerry told him, “You’re talking to a guy from Tampa Bay.” The President laughed, “I’m sorry, my condolences.”