Barack Obama suggested that any decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn his landmark healthcare law would send the country “backwards” and that Americans did not want to “re-fight” the battle over healthcare.
It was the first sign that beyond the White House’s staunch defence of the Affordable Care Act Mr Obama is prepared to use the law as a rallying cry on the campaign trail. It is a risky strategy: about half the country remains opposed to the legislation, although most voters like the consumer protections that are guaranteed under the law.
Political experts have said it is unclear how the Supreme Court decision will shape the presidential contest; while a move to strike down the law will undoubtedly be a blow to the Obama administration, some believe it will motivate Democratic voters ahead of the November general election.
The high court is expected to announce the fate of “ObamaCare” on Thursday, when it will either uphold the law, overturn it in its entirety or strike some provisions of the controversial legislation.
The White House has said it expects the high court to uphold the law.
In his comments, Mr Obama did not make any explicit references to the court, although he has said in the past that it would be “unprecedented” for the ACA to be overturned.
“The American people fight for what’s right. And the American people understand that we’re not going to make progress by going backwards. We need to go forward,” he said.
To applause, he said that 3m young people had been added to their parents insurance under the law and that it was “the right thing” to give senior citizens discounts on prescription drugs.
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Mitt Romney, Mr Obama’s Republican rival for the White House, also showed he was not shying away from using the law on the campaign stump, even though he has been criticised by fellow Republicans for passing a similar law while he was governor of Massachusetts.
Mr Romney has defended “Romneycare” – as that law was dubbed during the Republican primaries – and said states had the right to implement their own solutions to the healthcare crisis.
“If ObamaCare is not deemed constitutional, then the first three and a half years of this president’s term will have been wasted on something that has not helped the American people,” he said in a campaign stop in Virginia.
“If it is deemed to stand, then I’ll tell you one thing. Then we’ll have to have a president – and I’m that one – that’s going to get rid of ObamaCare. We’re gonna stop it on day one.”