Calling the Supreme Court ruling upholding a majority of the health care law a “victory for people all over this country,” President Obama urged the country to put aside divisive political fights over the law and move on.
“The highest court in the land has now spoken,” Mr. Obama said Thursday. “… What the country can’t afford to do is refight the battle of four years ago. With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward and [focus on] the most urgent challenge of our time: putting people back to work.”
Obama said that the high court’s decision upholds the principle he and other proponents of the law embrace — that in the wealthiest nation on earth, an illness shouldn’t result in financial ruin for anyone.
He cited a bevy of benefits the law provides middle-class families, such as the ability of adults younger than 26 to remain on parents’ health plans, discounts on prescription drugs for seniors, and protections for those with preexisting conditions and so providers can’t “bill you into bankruptcy.” For the 30 million Americans without health insurance right now, he said the law would give them “an array of affordable plans to choose from.”
The Supreme Court upheld the heart of the law, the controversial “individual mandate,” which forces everyone to purchase health insurance. Mr. Obama acknowledged that he initially didn’t support the individual mandate during his 2008 presidential bid, but eventually wound up doing so to prevent those who have insurance from bearing the cost of emergency medical services for those without plans.
“Today I’m as confident as ever that when we looked back 10 years from now, 20 years from now, we will be better off because we had the courage to pass this law,” he added.
Mr. Obama delivered the statement to a near-empty East Room with only a handful of reporters allowed in to watch. He did not take questions afterward.
“I know the debate on this law has been divisive …,” he acknowledged. “Well, it should be pretty clear right now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics. I did it because it was good for the American people.”
The 5-4 decision hands Mr. Obama a major victory heading into the critical final months his battle for re-election.
Immediately after speaking to the cameras, Mr. Obama headed to Walter Reed Medical hospital where he planned to spend the afternoon visiting wounded veterans.