President Obama said Thursday that 7.1 million Americans have signed up for insurance under his new health care law, proving that “the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
“This law is doing what it’s supposed to do — it’s working,” Obama said in a celebratory ceremony with supporters in the White House Rose Garden.
Obama also denounced Republican attacks on the new system, claiming that “the debate over repealing this law is over.” If the GOP continues to pursue to repeal, Obama said Republicans will have to explain to millions of newly insured Americans why they want to take away their policies.
Instead, Obama urged Republicans to work with him in the months ahead to improve the law where needed, including expansion of Medicaid in states that have resisted the plan.
The new law hasn’t “completely fixed our long-broken health care system,” Obama said, but it has “made our health care system a lot better.”
The end of the enrollment period for this year commenced a new struggle between the parties to define the landmark health care law, eight months before congressional elections.
Republicans who had questioned whether the administration could reach its enrollment goal vowed again to repeal and replace the law, saying it is creating higher premiums and worse health care.
Obama “is taking a premature victory lap for his signature health care law,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
With the announcement that came hours after the March 31 deadline to sign up for coverage, the Obama administration has cleared the initial projection for enrollees set by the Congressional Budget Office — a goal that had seemed out of reach after a rocky launch to the online federal marketplace last fall.
“We surpassed the 7 million mark with the over 200,000 people who enrolled yesterday in states run by the federal government alone,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “When we get numbers in from the rest of the states and people who are trying to sign up by the deadline and are finishing now, even more people will be covered.”
After meeting with Obama at the White House on Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., cheered the administration crossing what was seen as a crucial threshold for the law.
“Many more people now have affordable, quality health care,” Pelosi said.
After a surge of last-minute enrollment on Monday — the technical deadline to sign up for health care or face a penalty — administration officials began expressing confidence that they would meet or exceed the 7 million mark for signups.
SOURCE: David Jackson and Aamer Madhani