Declaring that the highest court in the land has now spoken, President Barack Obama vowed to press ahead with implementing the sweeping health care reform law whose constitutionality the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed on Thursday.
The speech allowed Obama to tout the law's benefits, but the White House had a contingency plan in case the Supreme Court had ruled differently. The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Obama had three speeches prepared: one for if the court upheld the entire law, one for if the court struck down the entire law and one for a mixed ruliing somewhere in between.
Obama was able to read the first version, extolling popular protections in the law that eliminate lifetime limits on insurance policies, allow young adults to remain on their parents' plans until they are 26 and bar insurance companies from discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions. He stressed that Americans who currently have insurance will be able to keep it.
Health Care Exchnages: Important Component Of Universal Health Care
As for the uninsured who will be compelled to purchase health insurance now that the Supreme Court has preserved the individual mandate, Obama described the health insurance marketplaces each the law requires every state to set up. Many Republican-led states have resisted setting up the exchanges in anticipation of the court's decision.
If you're sick you'll finally have the chance to get the same affordable, quality healthcare as everyone else, Obama said.
He added that the individual mandate is necessary to ensure people do not wait until they fall ill to purchase insurance, a scenario that would keep insurance premiums high.
The people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance, Obama said.
The idea of forcing Americans to obtain insurance has proven to be shatteringly divisive, and opposition to the mandate has informed the Republican party's case against Obama. The president acknowledged the risks of the policy, saying that I knew the idea wasn't politically popular and resisted it when I ran for this office.
It should be pretty clear by now that I didn't do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country, Obama said.
Today I am as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now or ten years from now or twenty years from now, we'll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.