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President Obama Touts Affordable Care Act in Milwaukee

LaToya Dennis
President Obama traveled to Milwaukee to congratulate the city on the number of people it signed up for the ACA.

President Obama came to Milwaukee Thursday to congratulate the city on beating out 19 others when it came to registering uninsured residents for health insurance.

The President championed his Affordable Care Act saying it has lowered the number of uninsured Americans to below 10 percent.

Milwaukee beat out some major cities when it came to registering a high percentage of its uninsured residents during the recent open enrollment season--cities like Chicago and Atlanta and Philadelphia. Mayor Tom Barrett says he’s proud that Milwaukee registered 38,000 new people. Barrett took the stage before President Obama arrived and talked about an experience he had a grocery store that highlights why the country needs the Affordable Care Act.

“The woman behind the counter recognized me and she said do you have any jobs? And I was surprised she asked me that because she was working. And I thought what’s wrong here, what’s wrong here? And I said to her, how many hours a week are you working? And she said 26. And I quickly did the math and thought about where we are as a society,” Barrett says.

Barrett says if someone works less than 30 hours a week, large employers don’t have to offer health insurance. But people can now buy a plan on the exchange. While Barrett helped warm up the crowd, the real show started once the President took center stage.

“It’s good to be back in the Midwest. How’s everybody doing today? You look great!” Obama says.

Mr. Obama told the crowd that Milwaukee won because of its teamwork.

“It wasn’t about Democrats or Republicans, it was about our values as Americans and making sure that hardworking Americans are no longer locked out of health insurance through no fault of their own. It’s about the basic idea that in America, health care is not a privilege reserved for the few, but should be a right for all people,” Obama says.

The president went on to say that because of the Affordable Care Act, even those with private insurance are better off.

“They’re now guaranteed free preventative care as well. Checkups, mammograms, you’re getting more for what you’re paying for. So you’re insurance is better than it was, even if you don’t know it. Even if you didn’t vote for me. Thanks, Obama!” Obama says.

Before leaving the stage, President Obama also took the opportunity to lambast Governor Scott Walker for not taking money the federal government offers to expand the state’s Medicaid program.

“And by the way Milwaukee, while you worked your tails off to cover enough folks to fill Lambeau Field, your governor still refuses to expand Medicaid in this state. And we could cover another 21,000 Wisconsinites with the stroke of his pen,” Obama says.

Governor Walker has said he opposes government mandates, including the ACA’s requirement that everyone purchase health insurance. The President says, in his remaining months in office, he’d like to make the law even better.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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