Former President Barack Obama was back at the White House on Tuesday for the first time since leaving in 2017. Obama returned for an event marking the 12th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, which was a signature legislative achievement under his administration.
“It is good to be back in the White House,” Obama said at the event with Biden and Vice President Harris. “Nothing made me prouder than providing better health care and more protections to millions of people across this country. So, when President Biden said he was not going to just celebrate the ACA but announce actions that would make it even better, I had to show up.”
According to the former president, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exemplifies why public officials run for office: to make a difference in the lives of ordinary Americans. Millions of Americans gained access to health insurance because of the law, often referred to as Obamacare.
“I intended to get health care passed, even if it cost me reelection — which, for a while, looked like it might,” Obama said jokingly.
Biden, who was Vice President when “Obamacare” became law in March 2010, wants to extend the law’s reach to even more Americans, the AP reports.
The event took place as the Biden administration announced plans to expand healthcare coverage, starting with a fix to what’s become known as the “family glitch” in the ACA.
The “family glitch” has prevented families from qualifying for subsidies on health insurance marketplaces even if one family member can access an affordable individual plan through an employer. Biden also signed an executive order directing federal agencies to expand healthcare coverage and make it more accesible and affordable.
“The Affordable Care Act is stronger than it’s ever been,” said Biden. “And today, we’re strengthening it even further.”
According to the White House, fixing this issue could increase the availability of affordable insurance coverage for about one million people and give 200,000 uninsured individuals access to coverage.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment in ACA-subsidized plans soared, with a record 14.5 million Americans signing up for coverage in 2021. However, more substantial financial aid for coverage included in COVID-19 relief programs is slated to expire at the end of the year. Biden’s efforts to increase coverage through his social spending measures have stalled in Congress.