President Obama says that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. "would like" the Affordable Care Act that is set to kick in this fall and that has become a top target of Republicans.
Speaking on the eve of the commemoration ceremony for the 50th anniversary of Mr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech set for Wednesday in Washington, Mr. Obama was asked what the civil rights leader would say about the Affordable Care Act, which passed in 2010 and has become known as Obamacare.
"Oh, he would like that," Mr. Obama told Tom Joyner and Sybil Wilkes during an interview in the Oval Office. "Well, because I think he understood that health care, health security is not a privilege; it's something that in a country as wealthy as ours, everybody should have access to."
Mr. Obama said that starting Oct. 1 people without health insurance will be able to get it at an affordable rate and that the cost of free prevention and free checkups for a lot of people will be "cheaper than your cell phone bill."
"And, if heaven forbid you get sick or some family member gets sick, even if you have a preexisting condition, you know that you're going to have the security — you're not going to lose your house, you're not going to suddenly go bankrupt, and you're going to be able to get the treatment that you need," he said. "So the key is going to be just signing folks up."
The Obama administration has been working to set up state-based health exchanges, where qualified consumers without employer-based health coverage may buy insurance through the help of government subsidies, in time for the start of open enrollment on Oct. 1.
A breakaway group of Senate Republicans are calling on their colleagues to defund the effort by rejecting any spending bills that fun the health law.
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