“I didn’t do this because I thought it was good politics,” Obama said, touting the act’s provisions to protect patients with preexisting conditions, to allow children up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ plans and to require insurers to provide free preventive screenings. “I did it because I believed it was good for this country.”
Obama said that even as implementation of the act continues, it can be improved upon. But the court ruling allows the country to avoid, Obama said, going back to “fight the political battles of two years ago,” when the law was passed.
Mitt Romney, speaking on the roof of an office building in downtown Washington, the Capitol behind him and a lectern in front reading “Repeal & Replace Obamacare,” also made clear that the conversation isn’t over. He said the Supreme Court’s ruling doesn’t change the fact that the act is “bad law” and “bad policy.”
“What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day as president, and that is, I will act to repeal Obamacare,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said.
Romney avoided criticizing the Supreme Court, taking aim instead at the Affordable Care Act and the president. Although he promised to retain some of the act’s more popular provisions, including protections for patients with preexisting conditions, he excoriated the rest and called the law a “job-killer” overall.
The 5 to 4 decision was a huge win for Obama, for whom the health-care legislation is a signature achievement. The ruling also undermined the central argument being made by Romney and other Republicans: that the act’s central provision, the individual mandate, is unconstitutional.
Senior administration officials described how the president learned of the Court’s decision. At 10 a.m., Obama was watching a television in the “outer oval,” just outside the Oval Office, that had a four-way split screen with the four major news channels. He saw CNN and Fox misreport that the Supreme Court had overturned the individual mandate. He was described as calm. But within a couple of minutes, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler and Chief of Staff Jack Lew came in to tell him the actual decision.
Ruemmler and Lew had been following the proceedings on television and on SCOTUS Blog, and the White House had a lawyer at the court, administration officials said. Ruemmler first signaled to Obama with two thumbs up and then told him the good news of the 5 to 4 vote. Obama showed a bit of cognitive dissonance because he had seen the early erroneous reports, which were still on the air as Ruemmler told him the actual decision. The official said Obama was very happy and hugged Ruemmler, and his first call was to Solicitor General Don Verrilli to thank him. Ruemmler later had a more-detailed second conversation with Obama after she had read the ruling to break down the vote and the opinions for him.