On third anniversary, Obama touts health law’s benefits

President Obama on Saturday touted his landmark healthcare reform law on its third anniversary, but cautioned that there was “more work to do to implement” its provisions.

“Three years ago today, I signed into law the principle that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one should go broke just because they get sick,” said the president in a statement.

Obama said the law would give “hard-working, middle class families the health care security they deserve and protect every American from the worst insurance company abuses.”

“Millions of seniors are saving $600 a year on their prescription drugs. Millions of young people have been able to stay on their family’s health plan until age 26,” he continued. “Preventive care, like mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors, is covered free of charge.”

But he acknowledged that he would need to work with Congress to continue to curb medical costs and extend coverage. 

“I look forward to working with leaders of both parties to help Americans save money on health care and extend the security of coverage to every family,” he said. 

Democrats have vocally defended the healthcare law on its third anniversary, confident that Republicans will be unsuccessful in efforts to roll back its key provisions after last year’s Supreme Court ruling and the 2012 election. 

House Republicans, though, insist they will continue to push for the law to be repealed, including that measure in Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, which passed the House this week. GOP candidates will also likely use the landmark legislation against Democratic senators up for reelection in 2014, as Republicans make another bid to capture the upper chamber.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Saturday said the Democrats had “rammed” the bill through Congress three years ago and that its promises “are proving more empty by the day.”

“After three years, it’s clear the American people were sold a 3,000 page bill of goods with ObamaCare, and we remain committed to fully repealing and replacing it with better solutions that lower health care costs and increase access to quality care,” Boehner said in a statement.

Senators rejected an amendment to the budget passed on Saturday that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act in a 45-54 vote.

Obama also praised the new insurance exchanges being implemented under the Affordable Care Act.  Americans “will finally have the opportunity to buy the same kind of health care Members of Congress give themselves,” he said.

The insurance exchanges are a centerpiece of the reform law, and must be in place and running by October. The federal government has encouraged states to implement the exchanges, but many GOP governors have refused.

Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) approved “partnership” exchanges, which will be run in concert by state and federal authorities in four more states. The department has now approved partnership or state-run exchanges in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Washington is establishing an exchange for other states that have not acted by the deadline.

“Through these marketplaces, Americans and small business owners will be able to choose from a menu of health plans that fit their budget and provide quality coverage they can count on when they need it most,” Obama added. “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you cannot afford a plan, you or your small business may get financial assistance to make it affordable.”

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will hold a conference call with volunteers who are preparing to enroll millions in the law’s new insurance exchanges.

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