President Obama responded to the Supreme Court decision upholding his healthcare law with an address that was broadcast live from the White House earlier this afternoon. With Mitt Romney and top Republicans in Congress vowing to repeal the law, the president encouraged people to move forward rather than trying to “refight the political battles of two years ago or go back to the way things were.”
“The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law and we’ll work together to improve on it where we can,” President Obama said. “With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law. Now’s the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time–putting people back to work paying down our debt….I’m as confident as ever that, when we look back five years from now, ten years from now, or twenty years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law.”
The most controversial element of the law is a mandate requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face fines. In his speech, President Obama explained why he believes this provision will be a good thing for the country.
“The Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance. This is important for two reasons–first, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums,” said President Obama. “Secondly, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need, which would also drive up everyone else’s premiums.”
President Obama acknowledged the law has been controversial, but he insisted he worked on it because he thinks it is best for the country and not for political gain.
“Even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who could afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so,” President Obama said. “I know the debate over this law has been divisive. I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have showed….It should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics, I did it because I believed it was good for the country.”