Obama: 'The Affordable Care Act Is Here to Stay'
The president addressed the Supreme Court’s ruling on his health care law on Thursday.
Twice, President Obama's signature domestic accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, has been reviewed under the mortal threat of the Supreme Court. And twice it has survived.
"Today, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law, after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law, after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay," Obama said from the White House on Thursday, with Vice President Joe Biden standing alongside him.
In a 6-3 ruling on Thursday in King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare's insurance subsidies, keeping state exchanges in 34 states intact. If the case had gone the other way, the decision would have invalidated health care subsidies for millions of Americans. Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored the majority opinion, wrote that such a scenario would have sucked Obamacare exchanges into a "death spiral."
Obama struck a triumphant tone. "This law is working exactly as it's supposed to," he said. "In many ways, that law is working better than we expected it to. For all the misinformation campaigns, all the doomsday predictions, all the talk of death panels and job destruction, for all the repeal attempts, this law is now helping tens of millions of Americans."
Obama implied that the Supreme Court decision means people should accept his health care as the law of the land and that the debate over it is now over.
"This is health care in America," he said.
But Obama said there is still work left to do. Under the law, states have the option to expand Medicaid coverage with federal funds. Many Republican-led states have declined to so.
"We've still got states out there that for political reasons are not covering millions of people that they could be covering, despite the fact that the federal government is picking up the tab," Obama said.
Thursday's decision, while a victory for the president, also saves Republicans from a messy political scenario. With subsidies gutted, Congress would have had to scramble to patch the law to shield the Americans that would lose their coverage, most of whom reside in red states. President Obama had previously said that the Court "probably shouldn't even have" taken up the case that was decided today.
The decision is the latest in a series of wins for the Obama administration this week. The Court also ruled Thursday, in a 5-4 decision, in favor of a legal maneuver the administration uses in its efforts to prevent housing discrimination. And on Wednesday—after weeks of anticipation, a much-hyped failed House vote, and Democratic defections—Congress voted to give the president wide-ranging authority on negotiating global trade deals.
Obama expressed hope that the end is near for legal challenges to his health care law.
"This was a good day for America," he said. "Let's get back to work."