Healthcare

President takes victory lap on Supreme Court ObamaCare ruling

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President Obama is taking a victory lap on his landmark healthcare legislation less than a week after the Supreme Court delivered a key decision in favor of the administration.

“I’m feeling pretty good about how healthcare’s going,” Obama said to applause from an audience in Nashville, Tenn.

{mosads}In his first public remarks devoted to healthcare since the court’s 6-3 decision, Obama vowed to make the law “even better.”

“I think it’s important to remember that everybody who has health insurance benefited and continues to benefit from this law even though a lot of folks don’t know it,” Obama said during the town hall meeting.

The president rattled off “a whole host” of benefits of the law, ranging from free preventative services such as mammograms to the ability of young people to stay on their parents insurance until they are 26.

“You don’t always notice that until you need it,” he said of the benefits.

He also made the case for the economics of the law, citing lower healthcare inflation.

The Supreme Court’s decision last week said subsidies could be provided to people who get ObamaCare insurance from a federal exchange. 

The groups bringing the challenge had argued that only consumers who bought insurance from state exchanges could be granted the subsidies.

With the Supreme Court ruling again in his favor, Obama is trying to shift conversations to focus on the healthcare system in general, rather than simply attacking his signature law.

“My hope is that now we can return to a constructive conversation,” he said, adding, to laugher, “It turns out, it’s hard.”

As he talked up his efforts to work with Republicans to fix elements of the law, he also took jabs at his long-time conservative opponents who are still pushing for repeal.

“People tend to forget that the Affordable Care Act model … was originally a model that was embraced by Republicans before I embraced it,” he said, adding that “conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation thought [it] was a good idea.”

“I didn’t mind stealing ideas from Mitt Romney,” he said. “The bottom line is what works.”

Obama’s trip to Tennessee is part of a push for bipartisan fixes to the healthcare system in his remaining two years in office.

Tennessee has been a battleground for Medicaid expansion, which is shaping up to be the biggest healthcare issue for the rest of Obama’s tenure.

Despite support from Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, Medicaid expansion has stalled in the state because of fierce opposition from a handful of leaders in the state legislature.

While Obama’s prepared remarks did not specifically mention Medicaid programs, he took a question from a man who asked about the fate of the governor’s Medicaid expansion plan called Insured Tennessee, wearing a t-shirt that read “Insure Tennessee Now.”

“There’s something that can be done, but it’s going to be at the state level. It’s important for state legislators to get together and find a uniquely Tennessee solution,” Obama said.

“The federal government is there to help and work with those states that are ready to get going,” he added.

In front of a crowd of about 150 people, Obama was at ease.

After stepping onto the stage, Obama paused to remove his jacket and at one point, reminded the audience, “This is casual.” As he spoke, he rolled up his sleeves.

During the nearly hour-long question and answer session, Obama took a question from the fifth generation grandson of Davy Crockett, and asked if he had a coonskin cap. He then sang several bars of the TV show’s theme song.  

He also joked about bonding with a local woman named Kelly Bryant – who paid for her breast cancer care with the help of ObamaCare – and said she is “possibly the first person ever to be picked up at her house by a presidential motorcade.”

He ended on a more serious note, calling healthcare “a good metaphor for a lot of problems we have” and sending one final message to Republicans about finding compromises on the law such as Medicaid.

“Part of what I’ve tried say to the Republican party is, open your heart and think about the folks in Tennessee who are working hard and struggling and just need a little help. If we give them that help, it’ll pay off in the long term,” he said. “We’re all in this together.”

This story was last updated at 3:54 p.m.

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