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Obama: ‘The Affordable Care Act is here to stay’

Here are key moments from President Obama's reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on health-care subsidies. (Video: AP)

This item has been updated.

President Obama on Thursday heralded the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding a key provision of the Affordable Care Act and sought to cast the law as a settled matter now safely stitched into American life.

"The Affordable Care act is here to stay," during remarks in the White House Rose Garden.

Flanked by Vice President Biden, Obama said that "After nearly a century of talk, decades of trying, a year of bipartisan debate, we finally declared that in America, health-care is not a privilege for a few but a right for all.

"Over those five years, as we’ve worked to implement the Affordable Care Act, there have been successes and setbacks -- the setbacks I remember clearly," the president said.

By a 6-3 vote, the court affirmed an Internal Revenue Service ruling that the subsidies should be available not only in states that have set up their own health insurance exchanges, but also in states where consumers rely on the federal government exchange.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Opposing the decision were Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

The ruling capped several years of legal challenges to Obama's signature domestic policy achievement. On Thursday, he pleaded with Republicans to end their years of legislative and legal challenges to the law and to work with him to embrace the legislation and help explain it to skeptical Americans.

"Today, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law, after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law, after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care act is here to stay,” he said.

"This is no longer about a law, this is not about the Affordable Care Act as legislation or Obamacare as a political football, this is health care in America," he added later. "And unlike Social Security or Medicare, a lot of Americans still don’t know what Obamacare is beyond all the political noise in Washington. Across the country there remain people are directly benefiting from the law but don’t even know it."

While embracing the legal victory, Obama said that his administration remains committed to improving the law and that he would work to convince Republican governors and state legislators that they should expand Medicaid in their states despite political pressure.

In his roughly 12 minutes of remarks, Obama sought to tie the Affordable Care Act to other American programs that have withstood initial skepticism, only to persevere and provide assistance to millions of Americans.

"Three generations ago, we chose to end an era when senior were left to languish in poverty. We passed Social Security and slowly it was woven into the fabric in America and made a difference in the lives of millions of people," he said. "Two generations ago we chose to end an age when Americans in their golden age didn’t have the guarantee of health-care. Medicare was passed, and it helped millions of people."

"This generation of Americans chose to finish the job, to turn the page on a past when our citizens could be denied coverage just for being sick," he added.

“This was a good day for America,” he said as he concluded his comments. “Let’s get back to work.”