Former President Obama took a victory lap Thursday on seventh anniversary of his signature health care law even as Republicans had planned to formally begin the process of gutting it in celebration.
But now, it's the GOP replacement plan that remains on life support. Republicans postponed a planned evening vote in the House, denying them a symbolic chance to make good on their years-long promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Obama ticked off the law's successes in a statement released Thursday morning: 20 million more people insured, preexisting conditions covered, young people staying on their parents' plans until 26, lowered costs for women's health care and free preventive care. And while he acknowledged the law could get better, he charged that Republicans' plan would be moving backward. He said:
"So the reality is clear: America is stronger because of the Affordable Care Act. There will always be work to do to reduce costs, stabilize markets, improve quality, and help the millions of Americans who remain uninsured in states that have so far refused to expand Medicaid.
"I've always said we should build on this law, just as Americans of both parties worked to improve Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid over the years. So if Republicans are serious about lowering costs while expanding coverage to those who need it, and if they're prepared to work with Democrats and objective evaluators in finding solutions that accomplish those goals — that's something we all should welcome. But we should start from the baseline that any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans. That should always be our priority.
"The Affordable Care Act is law only because millions of Americans mobilized, and organized, and decided that this fight was about more than health care — it was about the character of our country. It was about whether the wealthiest nation on Earth would make sure that neither illness nor twist of fate would rob us of everything we've worked so hard to build. It was about whether we look out for one another, as neighbors, and fellow citizens, who care about each other's success. This fight is still about all that today. And Americans who love their country still have the power to change it."
At the daily White House briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer jabbed that the former president's lengthy statement came because he was "feeling time is up" for the law.
Spicer insisted this would be the last anniversary Obamacare was celebrated.
"President Obama attempted to move the goalposts on costs, downplaying the skyrocketing premiums, some in the case of over 100 percent in some places, and unaffordable deductibles," Spicer said.
He said the Affordable Care Act was in a "death spiral."
But his comments came just before Republicans postponed the vote in the House for their alternative, as they were still unable to muster a majority to pass the GOP plan.