President Obama told a cheering crowd of thousands in Largo, Md. Sept. 26 that the Affordable Care Act is “here to stay,” despite the intense congressional debate that has linked defunding of the national health care law to a possible government shutdown.

Obama denounced as “irresponsible” Republican critics of the law and vowed to beat back efforts to block a new federal spending plan – or an increase in the debt ceiling – unless the health care law is defunded.

“Some have threatened a government shutdown if they can’t shut down this law,” Obama said.

“Others have actually threatened an economic shutdown by refusing to pay America’s bills if they can’t delay the law,” he said.

“That’s not going to happen as long as I’m president,” Obama said. “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”

His remarks came just five days before the Oct. 1 launch of federally-mandated Health Insurance Marketplaces that he compared to large group plans that will include companies competing for business, lowering insurance premium prices while maintaining quality.

“If you’re one of over 40 million Americans who don’t have health care, starting on Tuesday, five days from now, you’ll finally have the same chance to buy quality fordable healthcare as everybody else,” Obama said.

“I want to break this down … so you can know exactly how this works,” he said. “The major reason people don’t have health insurance is, either they don’t have a job, or they do have a job but their employer doesn’t offer health insurance or they’re self-employed.”

He also derided the effort to tie the law to the budget. He said the move to link funding of the health care law with the budget and the debt limit is irresponsible because without the nation’s “full faith and credit” is at stake, and “you don’t mess with that.”

The hour-long address was part of the president’s drive to sell consumers on the new health care law. The White House said that in Prince George’s County, Md., 16 percent of the county’s residents under 65 are without insurance.

Obama’s audience was teeming with the young people he is targeting to enroll during the six- month period of the startup of the law’s insurance provisions.

The health insurance exchanges will allow consumers to compare health insurance plans offered by private insurers. He predicted success once people learn they can save money or get insurance for the first time.

“Even if you didn’t vote for me, I’ll bet you’ll sign up for that health care plan,” Obama said.

Obama said Republicans want “to shut this thing down before people find out that they like it.”

“In the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one should go broke just because they get sick,” he said.

Many in the crowd voiced support of the president and the plan that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014.

Danae M. Jones, 23 of Fort Washington attends P.G.C.C. “I was so excited to come today because this is an event I can tell my children about,” Jones told the AFRO

“The fact that I was in the same room with the first African American President, that was a big thing for me. I had a lot of stuff going on to get here. It took me three hours to get here, but I got here by taking a cab. Its so exciting.”


Courtney Jacobs

AFRO Staff Writer