President Barack Obama took a victory lap on Wednesday in celebrating the fifth anniversary of passing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The president strongly pushed back at the repeated accusations from Republican critics that the legislation would cost small business, kill jobs, and tank the economy.
“We have been promised a lot of things these past five years: Death panels, doom, a serious alternative,” Obama said, noting that none of those things materialized and pointing to the Republican’s inability to draft successful legislation to replace the ACA.
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He said there were clear reasons why the party wasn’t able to offer something better, despite all the harsh criticism. “First, it’s because the Affordable Care Act pretty much was their plan before I adopted it. It was deployed by a guy called Mitt Romney in Massachusetts to great effect,” Obama noted.
The number of uninsured Americans dropped by one-third, the president added. “Coverage is up, cost growth is at a historic low, deficits have been slashed, lives have been saved,” he said.
Obama jabbed at Republican vows to repeal the ACA — promises reiterated by newly announced presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz during a speech at Liberty University on Monday. Cruz encouraged his captive audience to “imagine in 2017 a new president, signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.” That future would also presumably leave the senator himself without health insurance coverage — the Texas Republican and his family will soon be beneficiaries of the plan he vows to strike down.
The president fired back, saying that Republicans had not offered alternative legislation because they’d have to “explain how kicking millions of families off their insurance will make us more free. Or why we should go back to days when women payed more for coverage than men.”
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After 60 straight months of private-sector job growth, “It’s not the job killer that critics have warned of for five years,” Obama said. The latest report from early March showed that the economy has added more than 200,000 jobs for the 12th consecutive month.
The ACA has extended the Medicare trust fund by 13 years and saved seniors $15 billion, he added. Obama also pointed to the good the legislation has done for young people, telling the story of a woman who became covered just four months before being diagnosed with early stage stomach cancer.
“If I didn’t have insurance, my stomach cancer would have gone undiscovered, slowly and surely killing me,” she wrote in a letter, according to the president. Instead, she recovered and is getting married in September, he added.
“This law is also saving lives, lives that touch all of us,” Obama said. “It’s working despite countless attempts to repeal and defame this law.”