Washington, Sep 27: US President Barack Obama Thursday defended his signature health care law passed three years ago, as his Republican rivals were trying to defund and delay its implementation even at the risk of a government shutdown.
“For a long time, America was the only advanced economy in the world where health care was not a right, but a privilege. We spent more, we got less. We left tens of millions of Americans without the security of health insurance,” Obama said during a speech in US state of Maryland, Xinhua reported.
In the wealthiest country on earth, no one should go broke just because they get sick, Obama stressed.
Despite all the obstacles, the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law in 2010. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional last year.
“Five days from now — on Oct 1, millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance because they’ve been priced out of the market or because they’ve been denied access because of a preexisting condition, they will finally be able to buy quality, affordable health insurance,” he noted.
Starting Oct 1, Americans without health care insurance can begin signing up for coverage through online marketplaces named “exchanges” set by governments in different states, under the Obamacare. Americans have a six-month enrolment period for the exchanges if they want to avoid a fine for not buying insurance.
“The closer we’ve gotten to this date, the more irresponsible folks who are opposed to this law have become,” charged Obama, referring to some Republican lawmakers.
“Some have threatened a government shutdown if they can’t shut down this law. Others have actually threatened an economic shutdown by refusing to pay America’s bills if they can’t delay the law,” he said.
Top Republican leaders of U.S. House of Representatives said Thursday that they would tie increasing the government’s borrowing capacity with a long list of party priorities including a one-year delay of the Obamacare.
The Republican-led House Friday passed a stopgap spending bill, which was championed by the conservatives, to fund the government through Dec 15 while prohibiting funding to implement the Obamacare. Without the approval of a spending bill before Oct 1, the first day of the 2014 fiscal year, US federal government will have a partial shutdown.