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Obama: Health care law ‘here to stay’

WASHINGTON (AP) – His health care legacy secure, President Barack Obama cast Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding Obamacare as a historic and emphatic declaration that the law has now been “woven into the fabric of America.”

“This is reality,” Obama said in a celebratory statement in the Rose Garden. “We can see how it is working.”

Obama called the court’s ruling a victory for hard-working Americans, ticking off specific benefits to parents, seniors, women, businesses, workers and more, then drawing an over-arching conclusion: “All of America has protections it didn’t have before,” he said.

“It has changed and, in some cases, saved American lives.”

But Obama’s remarks also showed that he viewed the ruling as a victory for his own presidency, recalling the setbacks and opposition he’d had to overcome along the way.

That drew a knowing chuckle from Vice President Joe Biden, standing at Obama’s side.

“The point is, this is not an abstract thing anymore,” Obama said. “This is not a set of political talking points. This is reality.”

It was the second time Obama’s health care law had survived Supreme Court scrutiny; the court also upheld key elements in 2012. The law also repeatedly has survived repeal attempts by Republican opponents in Congress.

“For all the misinformation campaigns, all the Doomsday predictions, all the talk of death panels and job disruption, for all the repeal attempts, this law is now helping tens of millions of Americans,” Obama said, “and they have told me that it has changed their lives for the better.”

Thursday’s court ruling was Obama’s second big win of the week as the second-term president tries to cement major aspects of his legacy.

His actions at times have been hindered by opposition from a Republican-controlled Congress. On Wednesday, though, Congress reversed course to advance the president’s trade agenda after it had served up an embarrassing defeat just weeks earlier. And in that vote, the president worked in concert with GOP leaders to overcome significant opposition from within his own party.

Obama said there was still work to be done on health care, promising to keep working to extend coverage to more Americans and get more states to participate in an expansion of Medicaid. He voiced hope that he’d see the political battles over health care abate “rather than keep refighting battles that have been settled again, and again and again.”