President Barack Obama touted the successes of the Affordable Care Act and improvements in the economy overall, during in a major speech on the economy Thursday at Northwestern University in Illinois.
“If we hadn’t taken this on, and premiums had kept growing at the rate they did in the last decade, the average premium for family coverage today would be $US1,800 higher than they are,” Obama said in his speech, referring to the law with pride as “Obamacare.”
“That’s $US1,800 you don’t have to pay out of our pocket or see vanish from your paycheck. That’s like a $US1,800 tax cut. nd because the insurance marketplaces we created encourage insurers to compete for your business, in many of the cities that have announced next year’s premiums, something important is happening — premiums are actually falling. One expert said it’s like ‘defying the law of physics.’ But we’re getting it done.”
Obama’s comments come one year after the disastrous rollout of the law’s online insurance exchanges, which helped contribute to the overall negative perception Americans have of the law. A year later and with the website repaired, he had plenty to tout — the slow premium increases, slowing growth in healthcare costs, and millions of more people insured.
He claimed that “about 10 million people” — 26% of the uninsured — have gained insurance in the first year of the law. He also touted the Congressional Budget Office’s projection that in 2020, Medicare and Medicaid will cost the federal government $US188 billion less than projected four years ago.
“Here’s what that means in layman’s terms. Healthcare has long been the single biggest driver of America’s future deficits. Healthcare is now the single biggest factor driving those deficits down,” Obama said.
“It’s a game-changer for the fourth cornerstone of this new foundation: getting our fiscal house in order for the long run, so we can afford to make investments that grow the middle class.”
Obama’s speech on the economy was part of an effort by the White House to highlight the slow-but-sure economic recovery, which Obama himself said has been felt unequally.
It is a difference, he said, that shows up when people read stats in a newspaper — like the stock market rising steadily and unemployment declining steadily — and what they feel. He pushed policies like raising the minimum wage, paid sick leave, and fair-pay laws as methods of evening out the gains of the recovery.
“If we do these things systematically, the cumulative impact will be huge,” he said.
“Unemployment will drop a little faster, workers will gain a little more leverage when it comes to wages and salaries, families will be able to spend a little more and save a little more. Our economy will grow stronger, and that growth will be shared. More people will feel this recovery, rather than reading about it in stats on a page. That’s the truth.”
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