With the House poised to vote Wednesday on a repeal of President Obama’s landmark health care legislation, the White House is working to emphasize the bill’s benefits to young Americans.
“The Affordable Care Act signed by the President helps Americans across the board, particularly young Americans,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during a phone conference with student journalists. “It ensures that they get access to affordable health care and get a fair deal on health care.”
It is estimated that one-third of young Americans are currently uninsured, Gibbs said.
Under the Affordable Care Act, young Americans can be insured under their parents’ health care plan until the age of 26. Gibbs said 1.2 million young Americans will gain insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
“The President and others believe that the best way to provide stability for young Americans is to allow them to stay under their parents’ health care plan,” Gibbs said.
The Affordable Care Act also helps those with pre-existing medical conditions obtain health insurance.
“One hundred and twenty-nine million Americans who have pre-existing health conditions under 65 could be denied coverage or pay higher prices if they attempt to pay health insurance on their own,” Gibbs said. “It is now prohibited for individuals under 19 years old to be denied health care, and it will be illegal for anyone [to be denied] in 2014.”
Elizabeth Adabale, a sophomore majoring in health promotion and disease prevention, said she approved of the benefits the Affordable Care Act provides for young adults.
“It’s great that under the Obama health care reform, you are able to stay under your parents’ insurance until 26,” she said. “Tackling health care early makes for healthy adults, so the state doesn’t have to pay for people later on.”
Republicans have criticized the bill for destroying jobs in the private sector.
Gibbs contends, however, the health care bill has added approximately 1 million new jobs to the private sector and repealing health care could stifle job growth.
“Without health reform we are likely to lose 250 to 400,000 jobs a year based on the health of our current economy,” Gibbs said.
Some Republicans have deemed the health care bill unconstitutional because it requires all Americans to have health care or pay a penalty.
Regardless, the White House stands behind the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
“We are confident that the way the law was written and passed by Congress that the legislation will be ruled constitutional,” Gibbs said.
Republicans aim to repeal and then replace the health care bill, but many of them recognize that they do not have enough votes to repeal the bill in the Senate.
“I don’t think there is any doubt that the legislative impact of tomorrow’s [House] vote is symbolic in its gesture,” Gibbs said. “It’s intended to send a signal to [the Republican party’s] base voters.”
Gibbs criticized this gesture and said that it was sending the wrong message to the American people.
“The message it sends to the Americans is that we are going to put health care insurance companies back in charge of making health care decisions, not patients,” Gibbs said.
Casey Penk, a freshman majoring in international relations, disapproved of the Affordable Care Act, but insisted that young people remain at the core of any health care bill.
“[The Affordable Care Act] provides a good safety net for young people, which should be part of any legislation,” Penk said. “But I would say that [the bill] reaches too far beyond that.”