U.S. President Joe Biden holds 4-month-old Hodge, son of Congressman Jimmy Gomez, at an anniversary event for the Affordable Care Act in the East Room at the White House in Washington on Thursday. The president thanked lawmakers and advocates for leading the way for the act's approval 13 years ago. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
March 23 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden celebrated the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, lauding the progress the law has made in helping Americans attain healthcare.
Addressing ceremony participants in the East Room at the White House, Biden thanked them for their work to make healthcare more affordable for many.
"Look, so many of you here worked so hard to make history that 13 years ago today," Biden said. "And I just want to start by saying thank you. And I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. And there's millions and millions of people who owe you because you stuck with it and you keep defending it."
While the president emphasized the need to continue strengthening the law, he cited benefits that included lower prescription drug prices, increased mental health treatment, less medical debt, and more early detections of cancer.
"Healthcare is a right -- not a privilege," said Biden. "We're not all the way there yet, but there's more to do, so let's finish the job."
The law was passed by President Barack Obama in 2010, when Biden was vice president. Since then the law has withstood Republican attacks, as Biden said it remains one of the best moments of his career.
The ACA has given nearly 36 million Americans access to health care and prevented 133 million people with pre-existing conditions from losing their care. It also expanded Medicaid to 40 states to cover 21 million low-income adults under 65.
"The night the ACA passed was one of the most meaningful moments of my career, because we knew the ACA would have a profound impact on the lives of millions of people," he wrote in an official statement today.
Biden also praised former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, whom he said was instrumental in getting the law passed.
"You know, and no one has more in her spine and -- than the greatestsSpeaker in the history of this country, Nancy Pelosi," Biden said. "Nance, it's no exaggeration to say this would not be law without you. It would not be law without you."