President Obama on Tuesday said his signature health-care law is saving money for the nation, a claim that is sure to draw the ire of Republicans who are hoping to scale back the law despite the president’s reelection and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold its key reforms.
“Already the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs,” Mr. Obama said in his State of the Union Address.
Within minutes, Senate Republicans issued a rebuttal in an email with links to articles about layoffs and higher premiums and taxes tied to “Obamacare.”
Mr. Obama’s top first-term achievement has faced intense scrutiny since its inception and passage in 2010. Although the nation’s high court upheld key parts of the reforms in June, the law’s critics have turned their attention to potential drawbacks in its implementation as states scramble to set up health-care marketplaces, or “exchanges,” in which some Americans can buy insurance with the help of tax subsidies.
States are also deciding whether or not to expand Medicaid within their borders to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
Mr. Obama also said he is ready to push modest reforms to entitlement programs like Medicare, but not to the extent that senior citizens “shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction, while asking nothing from the wealthiest and most powerful.”
He said deficit reduction requires a balanced approach of revenue and spending cuts in line with bipartisan debt-reduction proposals such as those from the commission co-chaired by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles.
To accomplish some savings, he proposed a reduction in tax subsidies to prescription drug companies and “ask more from the wealthiest seniors.”
But he will not scale down Medicare to the extent that it violates “the guarantee of a secure retirement.”
“Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep,” he said, “but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.”