Former US President Barack Obama has urged Republican lawmakers to show “political courage” and save his signature health insurance program, which covers some 20 million Americans. Obama made the remarks while receiving the John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage” Award in Boston, Massachusetts, on Sunday, three days after the US House of Representatives narrowly passed a repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
No Democrats backed President Donald Trump’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), and some 20 Republicans voted in opposition. Most of the Republican politicians have long vowed to repeal Obamacare.
“I’ve been thinking on this notion on 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,” Obama said. “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,” he stated.
“And then found themselves in the midst of a great debate,” he continued. “A debate that had been going on for decades … a debate about whether a nation as wealthy as the United States of America would finally make healthcare not a privilege, but a right for all Americans.”
Obama praised the “freshman congressmen and women” who had voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act “to insure millions and prevent untold worry and suffering, bankruptcy and even death.”
“These men and women did the right thing, they did the hard thing. Theirs was a profile in courage. Because of that vote, 20 million people got health insurance who didn’t have it, and most of [those lawmakers] did lose their seats,” he noted.
If approved, the Trump administration’s healthcare bill would repeal most of the taxes that paid for Obamacare. The bill faces a likely overhaul and uncertain passage in the Senate, where Republicans have a very narrow majority.