On the day the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the constitutionality of the nation’s health- care overhaul, President Barack Obama defended the law’s expanded coverage to 32 million more Americans in 2014.
Without directly addressing the court’s announcement, Obama said at a fundraising event today in Hawaii that the Affordable Care Act he championed and signed into law in 2010 represents “a reform that will finally make sure that nobody goes bankrupt in America just because they get sick.” Obama said the law assures coverage for people with preexisting medical conditions and is the kind of change he promised when he ran for president in 2008.
“Everything we fought for in the last election is now at stake in the next election,” Obama told about 250 donors at Disney’s Aulani resort in Ko Olina, Hawaii. “The very core of what this country stands for is on the line.”
Obama, a Hawaii native, also said he is willing to delay or cancel his annual Christmas vacation to the state this year if Congress leaves important business to year’s end.
While his wife and daughters will vacation in Hawaii, he said, “We’ll see if Washington gets its business done so I can get here as well. That’s always a challenge.”
Obama is pressing the congressional supercommittee to agree to a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases this month to avert automatic reductions for domestic and defense spending. Congress also must act to avoid expiration of a payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance by year’s end.
Obama tapped about 250 hometown supporters for campaign cash on his last of three days in Hawaii before he travels to Australia tomorrow as part of a nine-day Asia-Pacific trip to demonstrate his increased focus on the region.
Ticket prices for the Obama fundraiser ranged from $1,000 to $35,800, with proceeds going to Obama’s re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee, according to a Democratic party official who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
Obama has been in Hawaii, where he was born and reared, to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit near Honolulu that concluded yesterday. His campaign team scheduled the fundraiser around his itinerary.
Obama will be in Australia for two days where he plans to announce expanded U.S.-Australian military cooperation and changes to the U.S. military posture that reflect China’s rise. From there, he heads to the Indonesian island of Bali to be the first U.S. president to participate in the East Asia Summit.
The Supreme Court today said it will consider whether Congress exceeded its authority by requiring all Americans to get insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement that administration officials “know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident that the Supreme Court will agree.”
The law, passed in 2010 when Democrats still controlled both chambers of Congress, is one of Obama’s signature achievements and a rallying cry for Republican presidential candidates who say they want to repeal it.
That includes Mitt Romney, who oversaw a comparable state health-care overhaul as Massachusetts governor. The court will hear arguments in March. More than half of U.S. states have sued to block implementation.