(CNN)Former President Barack Obama defended his signature health care achievement on its seventh anniversary Thursday as the House of Representatives prepares for a major vote to repeal it.
“We finally declared that in America, health care is not a privilege for a few, but a right for everybody,” Obama said in a statement.
He cautioned that Republicans and Democrats working to build on the law should “start from the baseline that any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans.”
It’s highly unusual for a former president to make such a public and political statement less than 100 days after leaving office, signaling Obama’s concern for the law’s future.
Obama touted the bill’s successes, naming some of the law’s key features.
“Thanks to this law, more than 20 million Americans have gained the security and peace of mind of health insurance. Thanks to this law, more than 90% of Americans are insured — the highest rate in our history. Thanks to this law, the days when women could be charged more than men and Americans with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage altogether are relics of the past. Seniors have bigger discounts on their prescription drugs. Young people can stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26 years old. And Americans who already had insurance received an upgrade as well — from free preventive care, like mammograms and vaccines, to improvements in the quality of care in hospitals that has averted nearly 100,000 deaths so far,” he wrote.
And he defended against criticism of the bill, addressing rising premiums and charges that Obamacare is a “job-killer.”
“Reality continues to discredit the false claim that this law is in a ‘death spiral’ … so long as the law is properly administered, this market will remain stable. Likewise, this law is no ‘job-killer,’ because America’s businesses went on a record-breaking streak of job growth in the seven years since I signed it,” he said.
Obama has spent the early days of the Trump administration decompressing from his eight years in office, taking trips to Palm Springs, the Caribbean — where he kite-surfed with Richard Branson — New York for a play and a lunch with U2’s Bono, and his native Hawaii for golf. There are reports, unconfirmed by CNN, that Obama is spending a month on the small French Polynesian island of Tetiaroa.
This isn’t the first statement Obama has made since leaving office — he penned his condolences on the death of Northern Ireland politician Martin McGuinness on Wednesday, and spokesman Kevin Lewis commented earlier this month about Trump’s accusation that the President ordered surveillance on him, calling the charge “simply false.”
And when protests sprung up across the country in reaction to Trump’s initial rollout of a travel ban, Lewis said the President was “heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country.”