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President Barack Obama struck a triumphant tone as he declared that his signature health care law "is here to stay" shortly after a Supreme Court ruling upholding nationwide subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
The president on Thursday touted the law as having led to more than 10 million Americans getting health insurance. Conservatives' concerns that the law would stymie job growth or cause a dramatic spike in the nation's health care costs have not come to pass, the president said.
"This law is now helping tens of millions of Americans and they've told me it's changed lives for the better," the president said. "This law is working and it's going to keep doing just that."
The justices voted 6-3 to uphold federal subsidies under the law, the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. It was the second time in three years that the high court turned away a challenge that could have crippled the program.
It was also a ruling that is widely seen as a win for an administration that, for years, has fended off more than 50 congressional attempts at repeal or weakening the law, numerous legal challenges and a public relations debacle in the problem-plagued launch of the healthcare.gov website.
The president took office in 2009 with big Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. With that wind at his back, Obama chose to make large-scale health care legislation one of his top two priorities along with the economic stimulus, sidelining proposals for major bills on climate change and immigration.
The ensuing long, deeply-divisive process to pass the Affordable Care Act not only left Obama with little time or ability to push other major bills, but stoked the public's anger with Washington.
It also helped lead to Republicans winning control of Congress in 2010.
The president acknowledged the law's rocky path to implementation on Thursday.
"As we’ve worked to implement the Affordable Care Act, there have been successes and setbacks. The setbacks I remember clearly," the president said to laughter. "But as the dust has settled, there can be no doubt that this law is working. It has changed, and in some cases saved, American lives. It set this country on a smarter, stronger course."
Obama's choice seems vindicated.
In March, the U.S government estimated more than 16 million Americans had gained health insurance since the passage of the ACA. A higher percentage of Americans have health insurance than at any time since the 1980's.
And Obamacare, which conservatives dubbed the law to mock the president, has become a moniker Obama himself embraces.
The public has also warmed to the law.
Most Americans wanted the Supreme Court to side with the government on deciding whether the feds can continue subsidizing insurance premiums in all 50 states under Obama's signature health care law, according to polls in recent months. Few, however, had much confidence that the court would rule objectively in the case, King v. Burwell.
Outside of the Supreme Court on Thursday, a gathering cheered the ruling and a law they said has helped them get adequate healthcare.
"I had ACA at one point and I have friends and family that are on it and I would hate to see them not be covered," Pete Haviland-Eduah, a University of Michigan graduate student, said outside of the Supreme Court building on Thursday. "I would hate to see people go into tremendous debt just to be able to pay off their medical expenses — and those are the stories that prompted president Obama to push this legislation through. So this is really important that we're here at this critical moment in American history."
Conservatives said they will continue to try and bring attention to flaws in a law they see as broken.
"Obamacare is fundamentally broken, increasing health care costs for millions of Americans. Today's ruling doesn't change that fact," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement on Thursday. "Republicans will continue to listen to American families and work to protect them from the consequences of Obamacare. And we will continue our efforts to repeal the law and replace it with patient-centered solutions that meet the needs of seniors, small business owners, and middle-class families."
However, the president remained undaunted by such threats in his victory lap-like speech following the court ruling.
"We've finally declared in America healthcare is not a privilege for a few but a right for all," he said.
— Sam Gringlas contributed