Obama urged Congress not to repeal Obamacare in 'Profiles in Courage' speech

Barack Obama urged Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Sunday, marking his most significant foray into the healthcare debate since leaving office in January.

Obama was accepting the Profiles in Courage Award at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston when his speech turned to healthcare reform. Without mentioning the ACA by name, or noting that House Republicans voted to repeal and replace it Thursday, the former president commended members of Congress who helped pass his healthcare bill in 2009, costing many their political careers.

"It is my fervent hope and the hope of millions that regardless of party, such courage is still possible," Obama said. "That today's members of Congress, regardless of party, are willing to look at the facts and speak the truth, even when it contradicts party positions."

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Obama honored with "Profiles in Courage" award
Caroline Kennedy presents the 2017 Profile in Courage Award to former U.S. President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Former US president Barack Obama watches as singer James Taylor performs for guests before Obama was presented the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on May 7, 2017 at the JFK Library in Boston, Massachusetts. / AFP PHOTO / Ryan McBride (Photo credit should read RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US president Barack Obama speaks to guests after receiving the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on May 7, 2017 at the JFK Library in Boston, Massachusetts. / AFP PHOTO / Ryan McBride (Photo credit should read RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Barack Obama greets supporters after speaking at a community event on the Obama Presidential Centre at the South Shore Cultural Centre in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Caroline Kennedy presents the 2017 Profile in Courage Award to former U.S. President Barack Obama, as former first lady Michelle Obama looks on, during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Former U.S. President Barack Obama stands onstage after receiving the 2017 Profile in Courage Award during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks after receiving the 2017 Profile in Courage Award during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Jack Schlossberg speaks before presenting former U.S. President Barack Obama with the 2017 Profile in Courage Award during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Caroline Kennedy speaks before presenting former U.S. President Barack Obama with the 2017 Profile in Courage Award during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 7: Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks after receiving the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile In Courage Award from Caroline Kennedy at the John F. Kennedy Library May 7, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. Obama was honored for 'his enduring commitment to democratic ideals and elevating the standard of political courage in a new century,' with specific mention of his expansion of healthcare options, his leadership on confronting climate change and his restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba. (Photo by CJ Gunther-Pool/Getty Images)
Former US vce president Joe Biden attends the ceremony where former US president Barack Obama received the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. / AFP PHOTO / Ryan McBride (Photo credit should read RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 7: Singer James Taylor performs before former U.S. President Barack Obama was to be presented the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile In Courage Award at the John F. Kennedy Library May 7, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. Obama is being honored for 'his enduring commitment to democratic ideals and elevating the standard of political courage in a new century,' with specific mention of his expansion of healthcare options, his leadership on confronting climate change and his restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba. (Photo by CJ Gunther-Pool/Getty Images)
Former US president Barack Obama (C) receives the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award from Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg (2nd-L) on May 7, 2017 at the JFK Library in Boston, Massachusetts. / AFP PHOTO / Ryan McBride (Photo credit should read RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images)
Jack Schlossberg, grandson of the late US president John F. Kennedy, speaks to guests before former US president Barack Obama received the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. / AFP PHOTO / Ryan McBride (Photo credit should read RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images)
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He then encouraged lawmakers not to replace his signature legislative achievement with the American Health Care Act, which some analysts predict would disproportionately hurt the poor and sick.

"I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn't take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential, but it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable, and the sick, and the infirm — those who often have no access to the corridors of power," he said.

"I hope they understand that courage means not simply doing what is politically expedient, but doing what they believe deep in their hearts is right," he added.

The American Health Care Act now moves to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future. A group of Republican senators has begun drafting legislation that is set to look different than the House-passed legislation.

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