WASHINGTON (AP) — His health care legacy secure, President Barack Obama cast Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding Obamacare as a historic and emphatic declaration that the law has now been “woven into the fabric of America.”
“This is reality,” Obama said in a celebratory statement in the Rose Garden. “We can see how it is working.”
Obama called the court’s ruling a victory for hard-working Americans, ticking off specific benefits to parents, seniors, women, businesses, workers and more, then drawing an over-arching conclusion: “All of America has protections it didn’t have before,” he said.
“It has changed and, in some cases, saved American lives.”
But Obama’s remarks also showed that he viewed the ruling as a victory for his own presidency, recalling the setbacks and opposition he’d had to overcome along the way.
That drew a knowing chuckle from Vice President Joe Biden, standing at Obama’s side.
“The point is, this is not an abstract thing anymore,” Obama said. “This is not a set of political talking points. This is reality.”
It was the second time Obama’s health care law had survived Supreme Court scrutiny; the court also upheld key elements in 2012. The law also repeatedly has survived repeal attempts by Republican opponents in Congress.
“For all the misinformation campaigns, all the Doomsday predictions, all the talk of death panels and job disruption, for all the repeal attempts, this law is now helping tens of millions of Americans,” Obama said, “and they have told me that it has changed their lives for the better.”
Thursday’s court ruling was Obama’s second big win of the week as the second-term president tries to cement major aspects of his legacy.
His actions at times have been hindered by opposition from a Republican-controlled Congress. On Wednesday, though, Congress reversed course to advance the president’s trade agenda after it had served up an embarrassing defeat just weeks earlier. And in that vote, the president worked in concert with GOP leaders to overcome significant opposition from within his own party.
Obama said there was still work to be done on health care, promising to keep working to extend coverage to more Americans and get more states to participate in an expansion of Medicaid. He voiced hope that he’d see the political battles over health care abate “rather than keep refighting battles that have been settled again, and again and again.”
MIAMI (AP) — The Supreme Court ruling validating federal health insurance subsidies for nearly 6.4 million Americans wasn’t just a major victory for President Obama’s signature health law. It also had consumers breathing a sigh of relief that they would be able to afford their policies.
“I’m just so relieved and happy, not just for me but for everyone who’s being helped by this,” said 55-year-old Shawn Turner of Cisco, Illinois, shortly after Thursday’s ruling.
She finished chemotherapy for uterine cancer last summer and relies on the $830-a-month in tax credit she and her husband receive for regular follow-up scans to make sure the cancer is gone. If the court had struck down the subsidies, she said they would have had to dip into their savings or start selling their possessions.
At issue in the case were the subsidies given by the federal government to consumers in the 34 states that relied on the federal health insurance exchange. A handful of words in the federal Affordable Care Act suggested the subsidies were to go only to consumers using exchanges operated by the states. In its 6-3 ruling, the high court said those subsidies did not depend on where people live.
“I’m glad for everybody that’s got it,” said Cindy Connelly, 63, of Amelia, Ohio. “There’s other people who this would be devastating. You hear about old people who share their pills because they can’t afford their prescriptions.”
Connelly, a retired manager of a self-storage business, applied last year through the marketplace after her husband was laid off and lost his health insurance. She and her husband pay $247 a month after receiving a $1,000 subsidy from the government.
“It’s not the greatest insurance, but at least it’s insurance so you don’t lose your home and everything you’ve worked for,” she said.
The reaction was markedly different from governors and lawmakers in states that have fought against the Affordable Care Act. Many continued their calls to repeal the act.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential Republican presidential candidate, called on Congress to repeal and replace the law, saying Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement had failed the American people. Some 183,000 Wisconsin residents are getting health insurance through the exchange.
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the administration’s implementation of ObamaCare means Republicans in the House and Senate must redouble their efforts to repeal and replace this destructive and costly law,” Walker said in a statement.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another potential GOP presidential contender, said in a Twitter message that he agreed with the court’s minority opinion that the subsidies should go only to consumers in states that run their own exchanges.
“This decision turns common language on its head,” Christie said. “Now leaders must turn our attention to making the case that ObamaCare must be replaced.”
Thursday’s court ruling also took pressure off governors and lawmakers in the states that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges, who were largely unprepared for the fallout had the court ruled the other way.