Former president Barack Obama has claimed that lawmakers will need to exercise “political courage” in order to save his landmark health care act, commonly known as Obamacare.
In an acceptance speech after receiving the John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage” award, Obama said: “I’ve been thinking on this notion of political courage this weekend, in particular about some of the men and women who were elected to Congress the year I was elected to the White House.”
“Many of them were new to Washington, had their entire careers ahead of them and in that very first term they had to take tough vote after tough vote because we were in crisis. It is my fervent hope, and the fervent hope of millions, that regardless of party, such courage is still possible,” he continued.
Obama also praised lawmakers who passed the Affordable Care Act in 2009. “Theirs was a profile in courage – because of that vote, 20 million people got health insurance who didn’t have it, and most of them did lose their seats,” he said, adding that they showed “the desire to maintain a reputation for integrity that is stronger than a desire to maintain office.”
The former president’s remarks were his first since House Republicans passed a revised version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on Thursday. Unlike the first proposal, the bill received the support of the House Freedom Caucus after it replaced Obamacare subsidies with age-based tax credits to help people buy health insurance on the individual market.
Now the process moves to the U.S. senate where it is currently unclear exactly how Congress’s upper chamber — which Republicans lead with a narrow majority — will handle it.