On Tuesday, President Obama took a victory lap in the Rose Garden when the Affordable Care Act aka “ObamaCare” met and exceeded the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate of 7 million sign-ups through the federal Exchange, even after the disastrous web site roll-out in October-November. Remarks by the President on the Affordable Care Act. This part stands out:
Like every major piece of legislation — from Social Security to Medicare — the law is not perfect. We’ve had to make adjustments along the way, and the implementation — especially with the website — has had its share of problems. We know something about that. And, yes, at times this reform has been contentious and confusing, and obviously it’s had its share of critics. That’s part of what change looks like in a democracy. Change is hard. Fixing what’s broken is hard. Overcoming skepticism and fear of something new is hard. A lot of times folks would prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t.
But this law is doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s working. It’s helping people from coast to coast, all of which makes the lengths to which critics have gone to scare people or undermine the law, or try to repeal the law without offering any plausible alternative so hard to understand. I’ve got to admit, I don’t get it. Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance? Why are they so mad about the idea of folks having health insurance? Many of the tall tales that have been told about this law have been debunked. There are still no death panels. (Laughter.) Armageddon has not arrived. Instead, this law is helping millions of Americans, and in the coming years it will help millions more.
I’ve said before, I will always work with anyone who is willing to make this law work even better. But the debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. (Applause.)
And those who have based their entire political agenda on repealing it have to explain to the country why Jeanne should go back to being uninsured. They should explain why Sean and his family should go back to paying thousands and thousands of dollars more. They’ve got to explain why Marla doesn’t deserve to feel like she’s got value. They have to explain why we should go back to the days when seniors paid more for their prescriptions or women had to pay more than men for coverage, back to the days when Americans with preexisting conditions were out of luck — they could routinely be denied the economic security of health insurance — because that’s exactly what would happen if we repeal this law. Millions of people who now have health insurance would not have it. Seniors who have gotten discounts on their prescription drugs would have to pay more. Young people who were on their parents’ plan would suddenly not have health insurance.
In the end, history is not kind to those who would deny Americans their basic economic security. Nobody remembers well those who stand in the way of America’s progress or our people. And that’s what the Affordable Care Act represents. As messy as it’s been sometimes, as contentious as it’s been sometimes, it is progress. It is making sure that we are not the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t make sure everybody has basic health care.