With the fate of the Affordable Care Act once again in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, the White House is rolling out a multimedia public relations campaign in support of the law as President Barack Obama prepares for a Tuesday morning speech highlighting the success of his signature legislative achievement.
On a White House webpage teasing the president’s 11:45 a.m. ET speech, the administration describes the signing of the 2010 health reform law as the historic culmination of decades of effort to overhaul a broken system.
“Since then, health reform in America has been the law of the land and after more than five years under this law 16.4 million Americans have gained health coverage,” the White House statement reads. “129 million people who could have otherwise been denied or faced discrimination now have access to coverage. Health care prices have risen at the slowest rate in nearly 50 years. And it will live on as a legacy achievement not just of this administration, but of all those who fought for it for so many years.”
The effort by the administration to trumpet its support for the ACA, also known as Obamacare, comes as the Supreme Court weighs whether Congress authorized federal subsidies for health care coverage in states that use federal insurance marketplaces, or just in states that created their own. Millions of people stand to lose their health care subsidies if the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, who argue that payment of subsidies through federal exchanges was deliberately restricted so that states would create their own marketplaces. The administration and lawmakers involved in writing the legislation say that was never the intent, and that federal and state exchanges were designed to be treated the same.
“The thing is working,” Obama told reporters Monday while in Germany for the two-day G7 summit. “Frankly, it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up” by the court, he added.
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“You interpret a statute based on what the intent and meaning and the overall structure of the statute provides for,” Obama said during the press conference. Asked whether he had an alternative if the Supreme Court rules against his administration, Obama admitted, “this would be hard to fix.”
A previous Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act left the law mostly intact. In 2012, the court ruled 5-4 that the individual mandate was constitutional as a tax, but that states could not be forced to participate in the the law’s Medicaid expansion, allowing several Republican governors to opt out of a provision that would have provided health coverage to millions of Americans too poor to qualify for Obamacare subsidies.