Obama defends Affordable Care Act on its 7th anniversary as Trumpcare vote looms

Former President Barack Obama released a statement on Thursday morning, defending his signature Affordable Care Act legislation as it faces repeal on its 7th anniversary.

"It was a long battle, carried out in Congressional hearings and in the public square for more than a year," Obama said. "But ultimately, after a century of talk, decades of trying, and a year of bipartisan debate, our generation was the one that succeeded. We finally declared that in America, health care is not a privilege for a few, but a right for everybody."

The Obamas post-presidency

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ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 27: Former United States first lady Michelle Obama smiles during a conversation at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2017 on April 27, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. Michelle Obama is making one of her first public speeches at the Orlando Conference since leaving the White House. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with youth leaders at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago to discuss strategies for community organization and civic engagement in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., April 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
MUMBAI, INDIA - NOVEMBER 7, 2010: US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle wave as they board Air Force One to depart for New Delhi from Chattrapati Shivaji International airport in Mumbai on Sunday. President Barack Obama left the Indian city of Mumbai for New Delhi. (Photo by Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Malia Ann Obama seen out in Manhattan on April 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 29: Malia Ann Obama is seen in Tribeca on March 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Alo Ceballos/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 24: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) The 44th President of The United States Barack Obama, poses backstage at The Roundabout Theatre Company's production of 'Arthur Miller's The Price' on Broadway at The American Airlines Theatre on February 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
Former U.S. President Barack Obama sits on a boat during a kite surfing outing with British businessman Richard Branson during his holiday on Branson's Moskito island, in the British Virgin Islands, in a picture handed out by Virgin on February 7, 2017. Jack Brockway/Virgin Handout via REUTERS FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY
THIS IMAGE IS BINNED Former U.S. President Barack Obama tries his hand at kite surfing during a holiday with British businessman Richard Branson on his island Moskito, in the British Virgin Islands, in a picture handed out by Virgin on February 7, 2017. Jack Brockway/Virgin Handout via REUTERS FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Former U.S. President Barack Obama and British businessman Richard Branson sit on a boat during Obama's holiday on Branson's Moskito island, in the British Virgin Islands, in a picture handed out by Virgin on February 7, 2017. Jack Brockway/Virgin Handout via REUTERS FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08: Malia Obama is seen arriving at The Weinstein Company on February 8, 2017 in New York, New York. (Photo by Alessio Botticelli/GC Images)
UNSPCIFIED, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS - FEBRUARY 1: In this undated image Former President Barack Obama takes a break from learning to kitesurf at Richard Branson's Necker Island retreat on February 1, 2017 in the British Virgin Islands. Former President Obama and his wife Michelle have been on an extended vacation since leaving office on January 20. (Photo by Jack Brockway/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 24: Malia Obama is seen walking in Soho on February 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 24: Malia Obama is seen walking in Soho on February 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 24: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Director Terry Kinney and The 44th President of The United States Barack Obama chat backstage at The Roundabout Theatre Company's production of 'Arthur Miller's The Price' on Broadway at The American Airlines Theatre on February 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 24: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (L-R) Malia Obama, The 44th President of The United States Barack Obama, Danny DeVito, Mark Ruffalo, Jessica Hecht and Tony Shalhoub pose backstage at The Roundabout Theatre Company's production of 'Arthur Miller's The Price' on Broadway at The American Airlines Theatre on February 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 24: Malia Ann Obama is seen out in Manhattan with friend on February 24, 2017 in New York, New York. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 24: Malia Ann Obama is seen out in Manhattan with friend on February 24, 2017 in New York, New York. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 24: Malia Obama seen out in Manhattan on February 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Michelle Obama leaves Upland restaurant on March 10, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Barack Obama leaves Upland restaurant on March 10, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 27: Former United States first lady Michelle Obama (L), and Robert A. Ivy, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute of Architects greet the audience during the AIA Conference on Architecture 2017 on April 27, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. Michelle Obama is making one of her first public speeches at the Orlando Conference since leaving the White House. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
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The House is expected to vote on Thursday, deciding if Obamacare should be repealed and ultimately replaced by the American Health Care Act -- a bill created by House Republican leaders.

Obama urged Republicans to work with Democrats to make the necessary changes, saying, "I've always said we should build on this law, just as Americans of both parties worked to improve Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid over the years."

SEE ALSO: Illinois lawmakers decline to declare official Barack Obama day

Former Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Washington D.C. on Wednesday, rallying at the Capitol to keep the Affordable Care Act in place.

"To me, what the ACA was all about ... it means an awful lot of people that I grew up with are able to go to bed now and not stare at the ceiling and wonder what happens if my wife develops breast cancer or I get a heart attack," Biden said. "This bill is about peace of mind."

Read Obama's full statement on Obamacare below:

When I took office, millions of Americans were locked out of our health care system. So, just as leaders in both parties had tried to do since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, we took up the cause of health reform. It was a long battle, carried out in Congressional hearings and in the public square for more than a year. But ultimately, after a century of talk, decades of trying, and a year of bipartisan debate, our generation was the one that succeeded. We finally declared that in America, health care is not a privilege for a few, but a right for everybody.

The result was the Affordable Care Act, which I signed into law seven years ago today. Thanks to this law, more than twenty million Americans have gained the security and peace of mind of health insurance. Thanks to this law, more than ninety percent of Americans are insured – the highest rate in our history. Thanks to this law, the days when women could be charged more than men and Americans with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage altogether are relics of the past. Seniors have bigger discounts on their prescription drugs. Young people can stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26 years old. And Americans who already had insurance received an upgrade as well – from free preventive care, like mammograms and vaccines, to improvements in the quality of care in hospitals that has averted nearly 100,000 deaths so far.

All of that is thanks to the Affordable Care Act. And all the while, since the law passed, the pace of health care inflation has slowed dramatically. Prices are still rising, just as they have every year for decades – but under this law, they've been rising at the slowest rate in fifty years. Families who get coverage through their employer are paying, on average, thousands of dollars less per year than if costs kept rising as fast as they were before the law. And reality continues to discredit the false claim that this law is in a "death spiral," because while it's true that some premiums have risen, the vast majority of Marketplace enrollees have experienced no average premium hike at all. And so long as the law is properly administered, this market will remain stable. Likewise, this law is no "job-killer," because America's businesses went on a record-breaking streak of job growth in the seven years since I signed it.

So the reality is clear: America is stronger because of the Affordable Care Act. There will always be work to do to reduce costs, stabilize markets, improve quality, and help the millions of Americans who remain uninsured in states that have so far refused to expand Medicaid. I've always said we should build on this law, just as Americans of both parties worked to improve Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid over the years. So if Republicans are serious about lowering costs while expanding coverage to those who need it, and if they're prepared to work with Democrats and objective evaluators in finding solutions that accomplish those goals – that's something we all should welcome. But we should start from the baseline that any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans. That should always be our priority.

The Affordable Care Act is law only because millions of Americans mobilized, and organized, and decided that this fight was about more than health care – it was about the character of our country. It was about whether the wealthiest nation on Earth would make sure that neither illness nor twist of fate would rob us of everything we've worked so hard to build. It was about whether we look out for one another, as neighbors, and fellow citizens, who care about each other's success. This fight is still about all that today. And Americans who love their country still have the power to change it.

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