WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama pledged on Thursday to implement and improve his signature healthcare law after the Supreme Court upheld it, a decision the president described as a victory for Americans that should put to rest the fight over reform.
“The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law and we’ll work together to improve on it where we can,” Obama said at the White House.
“What we won’t do – what the country can’t afford to do – is re-fight the political battles of two years ago or go back to the way things were. With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward.
The divisive law was Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement and the fulfillment of a promise he made as a presidential candidate in 2008. Obama’s opponent in this year’s presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney, has promised to repeal it if he wins.
Obama nodded to the political hits he took over the law and said he understood the “very real concerns” that millions of Americans had shared about it.
“Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country, whose lives will be more secure because of this law, and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it,” he said.
“It should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.”
The White House appears to want to avoid the impression of holding a victory lap over the Supreme Court’s decision.
Obama spoke somberly and did not take questions from the press before departing the East Room, the same setting he used to announce the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last year.
More than a dozen aides and senior advisers were present to watch the remarks and several smiled and nodded when he concluded.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Alister Bull, and Laura MacInnis; Editing by Will Dunham)