President Barack Obama Thursday celebrated the Supreme Court ruling upholding his signature domestic policy achievement, reforming the nation's health insurance system.
But his Republican rival, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, was equally swift in railing against the law he referred to as "Obamacare" and pledged to repeal most of the law's requirements.
Obama praised the court's decision as upholding a fundamental principle, that in America, "no illness or accident should lead to any family's financial ruin."
Much of the discussion in coming days, Obama noted, will likely focus on the politics of who won and lost as a result of the ruling.
"But that discussion completely misses the point," Obama said. "Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it."
Obama went on to again explain precisely what the law accomplishes, from making private insurance more secure and affordable for those who already have it to ultimately setting up a system of state-level health exchange programs to provide an affordable option for those who presently do not have health insurance.
"I know the debate over this law has been divisive. I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have shared," Obama said. "Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I didn't do this because it was good politics."
He added, "I did it because I believed it was good for the country. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people."
Obama also pledged to look for ways to continue to improve the reforms as it they are implemented in coming years.
"But what we won't do -- what the country can't afford to do -- is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were," he said. "With today's announcement, it's time for us to move forward -- to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law."
The president added, "I'm as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we'll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward."
Romney, on the other hand, decried the law that he said was both bad law and bad policy despite the ruling that it was constitutional.
"I disagree with the Supreme Court's decision," Romney said, speaking with the U.S. Capitol in the background. "What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected President."
He added, "I will act to repeal Obamacare."
Romney stressed that the court had not ruled that the health insurance reform law was good as a matter of public policy.
"Obamacare was bad policy yesterday. It's bad policy today," he said. "Obamacare raises taxes on the American people."
He added, "Obamacare is a job killer. … And perhaps most troubling of all, Obamacare puts the federal government between you and your doctor."
However, while many Republicans in Congress called for swift action to immediately repeal all of the provisions of the reform law, Romney expressed support for a number of the law's requirements, including providing coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and support for state efforts to ensure Americans have access to affordable coverage.
"This is now a time for the American people to make a choice," he said. "You can choose whether you want to have a larger and larger government, more and more intrusive in your life … or whether instead you want to return to a time when the American people have their own choice in health care."
While Romney made no mention of the health reforms enacted in Massachusetts while he was governor, Obama noted that one of the most contentious aspects of his reforms, the individual mandate provision, had been modeled from that Massachusetts program.
"Even though I knew it wouldn't be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so," Obama said. "In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President."
by RTT Staff Writer
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