“With your help, it’s the closest we’ve ever come to universal coverage in America,” Obama said in the 90-second clip released by Protect Our Care, a liberal advocacy group. “There are people alive today because of what you did. There are 135 million Americans whose pre-existing conditions are now protected because of what you did.”
He added, “That’s something worth celebrating, but it’s also progress worth protecting.”
Obama filmed several videos promoting the ACA — usually with a humorous bent — while he was in office and then more recently at annual open enrollment time for the Obamacare exchanges. The appearances have been aimed at reminding consumers of the deadline to sign up for coverage at a time when the Trump administration has slashed funding for marketing and outreach.
But Tuesday’s video was serious, emphasizing that voters protected Obamacare in the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, effectively ending President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers’ quest to repeal the law through congressional action for the time being.
“You helped protect it with your vote in 2018,” Obama said. “But even with a House of Representatives committed to building on the Affordable Care Act, Republicans will keep trying, both in Congress and in the courts, to rip away the care that millions of Americans rely on and to raise costs for millions more.”
That threat looms large. Last week, the Supreme Court announced it will hear a case that will likely decide the fate of the ACA sometime next term — presumably after the presidential election. The lawsuit, brought by a coalition of Republican attorneys general, centers on whether the Affordable Care Act can continue to stand even after Congress effectively eliminated the law’s individual mandate requirement that nearly Americans have coverage or pay a penalty.
While Obama’s message is geared towards protecting Obamacare from Republicans, it is also being released on the day of another round of primary elections as former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders vie for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Biden wants to build on the Affordable Care Act by adding a government-run health insurance option to the exchanges. Sanders, on the other hand, advocates establishing a single, government-run health insurance plan, known as “Medicare for All.”
“So even as we celebrate, we commit ourselves to protecting the progress we’ve made until we finish the job for good with quality affordable coverage for every single American,” Obama said.
The video featuring Obama precedes Protect Our Care’s “multi-state bus tour in key 2020 battleground states” that begins on Sunday and will include stops in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, according to a press release from the group.
The tour is also meant to hold Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who are facing tough reelections this year, “accountable for failing to stop the Trump-Republican war on health care,” the release states.