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Obama's message responding to the Senate health care bill is a must-read.

3 important lessons from the former president's latest message.

Obama's message responding to the Senate health care bill is a must-read.

The Affordable Care Act is perhaps the most significant piece of legislation former President Barack Obama enacted — and he's not giving up on it just yet.

As Senate Republicans introduced their ACA replacement bill earlier today, Obama published a thoughtful note to his Facebook page. Clearly, he opposes the bill, but it's about much more than that.

Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen...


Posted by Barack Obama on Thursday, June 22, 2017

In fact, there are three key takeaways from his post.

1. "This debate has always been about something bigger than politics."

While he recognizes that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has been one of the Republicans' top priorities for the past several years, he hopes that the Senate will "step back and measure what's really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did."

"I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.
We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain — we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course."

President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

2. "While the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts."

For the first time in history, more than 90% of Americans have health insurance, people can't be discriminated against on the basis of pre-existing conditions or age, and a number other benefits have resulted from the ACA's passage.

"If Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it."

ACA supporters demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on June 28, 2012. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

3. "There’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and ... it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse."

Members of Congress should consider what led them to a life of public service, and as constituents, we should remind them.

"[I]t remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.
That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible — if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family."

Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court on March 4, 2015. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

We, the people, can use this as an opportunity to let our elected leaders know exactly what we expect for them. We, the people, can urge them to move beyond Democrat and Republican and instead fight for all of us as Americans.

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I got married and started working in my early 20s, and for more than two decades I always had employer-provided health insurance. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka "Obamacare")was passed, I didn't give it a whole lot of thought. I was glad it helped others, but I just assumed my husband or I would always be employed and wouldn't need it.

Then, last summer, we found ourselves in an unexpected scenario. I was working as a freelance writer with regular contract work and my husband left his job to manage our short-term rentals and do part-time contracting work. We both had incomes, but for the first time, no employer-provided insurance. His previous employer offered COBRA coverage, of course, but it was crazy expensive. It made far more sense to go straight to the ACA Marketplace, since that's what we'd have done once COBRA ran out anyway.

The process of getting our ACA healthcare plan set up was a nightmare, but I'm so very thankful for it.

Let me start by saying I live in a state that is friendly to the ACA and that adopted and implemented the Medicaid expansion. I am also a college-educated and a native English speaker with plenty of adult paperwork experience. But the process of getting set up on my state's marketplace was the most confusing, frustrating experience I've ever had signing up for anything, ever.

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