January 29, 2014 — President Obama touted the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, while calling on Republican lawmakers to offer "specific plans" to cut health care costs, Modern Healthcare reports.
In his speech, which focused primarily on jobs and the economy, Obama spent some time highlighting various ACA success stories, including personal anecdotes from those who have avoided financial difficulties by gaining coverage. He also noted the law's ban on pre-existing conditions and young adults' ability to stay on their parents' coverage until age 26 (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 1/28).
He said, "Because of this law, no American can ever again -- none, zero -- be dropped or denied coverage for a pre-existing condition like asthma, back pain or cancer. No woman can ever be charged more just because she's a woman" (Pittman, MedPage Today, 1/28).
Obama also said that more than nine million U.S. residents have enrolled in private health plans or Medicaid coverage and urged "every American who knows someone without health insurance" to help them get coverage before April (Nather, Politico, 1/28).
Obama Challenges GOP
Obama challenged Republican lawmakers to offer alternative solutions rather than hold "another 40-something votes to repeal a law that's already helping millions of Americans" (Baker, National Journal, 1/28).
He said, "Now I don't expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. But I know that the American people aren't interested in refighting old battles." He added, "So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people and increase choice -- tell America what you'd do differently. Let's see if the numbers add up" (Politico, 1/28).
Support for Working Families
Obama also touched on women's equality in the workplace, affirming his support for pay equity and workplace policies that support mothers and families.
A woman "deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job," he said, adding, "A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship -- and you know what, a father does, too" (Plumber, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 1/28).
Rep. McMorris Rodgers Delivers Republican Response
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) in the GOP's official response criticized Obama's policies, taking specific aim at the ACA, the AP/U-T San Diego reports.
McMorris Rodgers, who has a six-year old son with Down syndrome and has co-founded the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, said, "Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government's." She added, "And that whether you're a boy with Down syndrome or a woman with breast cancer, you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you" (Cassata, AP/U-T San Diego, 1/28).
She also claimed that the ACA raisies premiums, sharing the story of a woman who sent her a letter stating that her premiums would increase by nearly $700 per month under the ACA. McMorris Rodgers said, "No, we shouldn't go back to the way things were, but this law is not working" (Kasperowicz, "Floor Action," The Hill, 1/28).