WASHINGTON (WNEW) — President Barack Obama touted this week’s announcement that 7.1 million American signed up for coverage through his signature health care law, and he blasted critics for continued efforts to assault the Affordable Care Act, declaring: “The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Obama was flanked by Vice President Joe Biden in an address to a cheering crowd in which he stated the success of the health care law that has given millions of Americans new coverage and has dropped prices for health care across the board. Obama conceded that although the enrollment process has been at times “contentious” and “confusing,” he ridiculed “political” critics of the law for being on the wrong side of history.
“7.1 million Americans have now signed up for insurance through these marketplaces,” he said to sustained applause from the audience. “The bottom line is: under this law, the share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth of health care costs is down. And that’s good for our middle class and that’s good for our fiscal future.”
The president stated that millions of Americans who already have health coverage have gained free preventive care such as mammograms and contraceptives that were previously unavailable or unaffordable prior to the implementation of “Obamacare.”
Obama stressed that the law is bringing better economic security to millions of Americans and said the law now prevents insurers from “placing dollar values” on health care for those with pre-existing conditions, seniors, people under the age of 26 on their parents’ plans, or just for “being a woman.”
Although the president conceded that the rollout of the law had “its share of problems” amid “several lost weeks” in which the insurance marketplace websites malfunctioned, he noted multiple Americans who had personally written him to say that the “long-broken health care system” in the U.S. has finally improved.
“The truth is, even more folks want to sign up,” said Obama, mentioning that people can still go back to sign up following the recent surge of enrollment coupled with website troubles. He noted that the 7.1 million who have signed-up are in addition to “3 million young Americans under 26” who can stay on their parents’ plans, and seniors with expanded Medicaid coverage.
He stressed the economic benefits to average Americans, stating that “premiums have risen more slowly” under the Affordable Care Act than they have in decades.
“Making sure that all of us and all our fellow citizens can rely on the security of health care when we get sick….the newly insured deserve that dignity…It’s good for our economy, it’s good for our country.”
Obama thanked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and citizens for “getting the word out,” but it was critics of the law that President Obama looked to put on the defensive.
“Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance…why are they so mad?” asked Obama.
“Governors in some states, for political reasons, have deliberately refused” to help their citizens gain health insurance coverage.
“Many of the tall tales have been debunked, there are still no death panels Armageddon has not arrived,” he quipped. He said critics looking to “repeal” the law are simply trying to “scare” people from being insured “without offering any plausible alternative.”
Some people “prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t,” he said, saying that Americans should be left to decide for themselves if the ACA helps their family.
“Those who have based their entire political career on defeating the law should explain to people who are now insured that they have to go back to being uninsured.” “That’s what change looks like in a democracy…We didn’t have billions of dollars of commercials like some critics did.”
“In the end, history is not kind to those who would deny Americans the right to basic economic security.”
He noted that the law means that the U.S. is “not the only advanced country on earth” that doesn’t help its citizens acquire health coverage.
Obama assured the crowd that there will be challenges with the law in the months and years ahead, but that he will continue to keep fighting to give more Americans access to health coverage.
“There will be days when the website stumbles,” he joked to the press. “It will be on all your front-pages. It’s gonna happen, it won’t be news.”