Obama also said Congress, when it returns from recess, should pass his plan to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, as well as the continuing resolution funding the government and a balanced deficit reduction plan.
Obama has been avoiding the national political press for most of the past two months, instead taking questions from the likes of Entertainment Tonight and regional TV and radio stations.
The drumbeat of annoyance from the press corps had threatened to become a crescendo.
As he entered the briefing room, Obama said, "Jay [Carney] tells me that you guys have been missing me."
He opened up with a defense of his Medicare changes, which he said would strengthen the program. Obama said 5.4 million seniors have saved $4.1 billion on prescription drugs under his health care law, and millions more are getting free preventive screenings.
Obama said his law helped seniors get "better care at less cost."
He also spoke about improving the vetting process for Afghan troops and the need to do more to protect American troops as they transition security to the Afghans.
"We are deeply concerned about this from top to bottom," Obama said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.