(Story updated at 5:15 p.m. ET.)President Barack Obama
, appearing in the Rose Garden with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, triumphantly announced that 7.1 million Americans have signed up for insurance through HealthCare.gov
and the state-run marketplaces
“The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act
is here to stay,” Obama said.
Earlier in the day, press secretary Jay Carney confirmed enrollment topped 7 million in the last day of the open enrollment period Monday.
It remains unclear how much of the tally reflects Americans who were previously uninsured.
Obama also ticked off other accomplishments attributed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including that 3 million young Americans are now covered by their parents' insurance and 100 million Americans now get preventive care such as contraceptive coverage and mammograms because of the law.
Obama's pronouncement that the achievement should end the debate over the Affordable Care Act came on the same day that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled a budget plan that calls for the law's repeal.
Chiding Republican opponents of the law such as Ryan, the president said, “History is not kind to those who would deny Americans their basic economic security.” He also called to task Republican governors and state legislators who have opted not to expand Medicaid under the reform law, saying, “we're going to work on them, and we'll work to get more Americans covered with each passing year.”
Clearly attempting to set the agenda for Democrats running in this year's mid-term elections, the president also said Democratic members of Congress, some of whom were in attendance at his roughly 20-minute speech, “should be proud of what they've done.”
The president did not specify how many people have signed up for Medicaid benefits, nor did he address the issue of how many younger Americans had signed up or how many enrollees have paid their first premiums.
Rather, he spoke repeatedly about the future of the ACA and returned to a theme he espoused while the law was being written and pushed through Congress: that it would become a major engine to help the American economy.
“This law is doing what it's supposed to do,” he said. “It's working. It's helping people from coast to coast,” he said.Follow John N. Frank on Twitter: @MHJFrank