President Obama on Thursday declared his signature health care law is “here to say,” shortly after the Supreme Court ruled to uphold tax subsidies used by millions of Americans to pay for insurance. The ruling cleared the last major legal challenge to the controversial law known as Obamacare, cementing it as the president’s major domestic policy achievement.
“The point is, this is not an abstract thing anymore,” Obama said in a statement from the White House’s Rose Garden. “This is not a set of political talking points. This is reality. We can see how it is working. This law is working exactly as its supposed to. In many ways, this law is working better than we expected it to.”
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the 6.4 million people who receive health insurance through the federal government’s exchange are still legally eligible for tax subsidies to help pay for the insurance, in effect saving the law. The court sided with the Obama administration in a 6-3 ruling, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the opinion representing the views of the four Democratic-appointed justices and Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The decision upheld a key part of the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature effort to provide health insurance for all Americans, and it did so on grounds that accepted the administration’s reasoning. It also may help neutralize the law as a political issue in the 2016 election, particularly for Republicans who might have faced blame if the law went into a “death spiral.” Many Republicans are still vowing to repeal the law.
Obama sought to highlight the real-world effects of the law instead of the political debate over the issue, saying millions of Americans who have benefited from the law might not even know it. “This has never been a government takeover of health care, despite cries to the contrary,” Obama said.
The president said there have been “successes and setbacks” for the health care law, which was passed in 2010 and survived a previous challenge at the Supreme Court. But, he added, the law has “changed, and in some cases saved, American lives.”
Obama said he hopes to work with Congress to continue to improve the American health care system.
“This was a good day for America,” he concluded. “Let’s get back to work.”
Irin Carmon contributed reporting.