“The ACA stands alongside Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as a pillar of health and financial security for America’s working families. Now, America is healthier, because in America, health care is more affordable and accessible than ever before,” former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement.
Democrats also warned about GOP efforts aimed at undermining aspects of the law, something the party has focused on amid broader budget debates on Capitol Hill.
“As we mark this joyous day, extreme Congressional Republicans are still plotting to recklessly rip away families’ health care. Today, and every day, Democrats declare that we will never relent in our mission to ensure that in America, health care is a right – not a privilege,” Pelosi said Thursday.
Public opinion of the ACA has been largely divided along partisan lines since it was enacted in 2010, but numerous polls show a majority of Americans now view the law favorably.
President Biden on Thursday acknowledged that shift, saying the law “has developed deep roots in this country.”
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, a record-breaking 16.4 million people signed up for health care coverage through ACA-created insurance exchanges during the 2023 open enrollment period from November to mid-January of this year. Those numbers surpassed last year’s previous record of 14.5 million people.
Speaking in the East Room of the White House to an audience that included many of the key lawmakers and advocates who helped get the massive legislation passed, Biden lauded their efforts.
“We made history when the Affordable Care Act became law,” he said. “We changed America. We gave millions of people peace of mind.”
Biden also spoke about steps his administration has taken to extend coverage and lower health costs, something that will likely be a key theme in his expected 2024 reelection campaign.
“My administration has focused intensely on building on the progress of the Affordable Care Act, getting more people affordable insurance, lowering prescription drug prices, giving families more breathing room,” Biden said.
The president noted that Americans on average are saving more than $800 annually thanks to expanded subsidies to help people afford insurance premiums for plans sold on the exchanges. The enhanced subsidies were extended through 2025 by the Inflation Reduction Act.
The White House wanted to make the subsidies permanent, and Biden’s budget proposal calls for that to happen.
In his remarks, Biden called out ideas being floated by conservative Republicans as part of a budget plan that he said would slash Medicaid, raise drug prices and end some of Biden’s key health victories.
He also echoed a theme of his State of the Union Address: “We’re not all the way there yet. But there’s more to do, so let’s finish the job.”