Obama on the Affordable Care Act: 'We won't agree on healthcare anytime soon'

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During his final State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama said that though the Affordable Care Act has been divisive, it has provided some economic security for Americans.


"That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about," he said. "It’s about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when we lose a job, or go back to school, or start that new business, we’ll still have coverage. Nearly eighteen million have gained coverage so far. Health care inflation has slowed. And our businesses have created jobs every single month since it became law."

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was passed in 2010 and took effect in 2013. Since then, 16.3 million more Americans are covered by health insurance.

The law was off to a shaky start, partly because of ambiguous wording that made it vulnerable to challenges. It faced legal battles at local and state levels, and finally won a Supreme Court challenge in June last year, King v. Burwell, which reaffirmed that the health insurance exchanges set up in every state under the law are valid and may receive federal subsidies. That was seen as a significant step to keeping the ACA intact.

And there are ongoing challenges to the ACA's requirement that employers provide birth control to employees through their mandatory health insurance offerings. But with a new rule the government issued in July, there's a guarantee that women will have birth control covered by their insurance company even if their employer refuses on religious grounds. But since 2013, a report in the journal Health Affairs found, out-of-pocket spending on birth control has dropped about 38% for pills and about 68% for IUDs (Intrauterine Devices).

So it's not perfect, but it's fair to say it's made healthcare in America a little more accessible.