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President Barack Obama lauded the Affordable Care Act’s successful first open enrollment period, and proudly declared that the law is “here to stay” during a triumphant speech at the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday afternoon.

Hours after the White House announced that 7,041,000 people had signed up for insurance using the law’s health care exchanges — exceeding the Congressional Budget Office’s original target — the president insisted that “this law has made our health care system a lot better.”

“Under this law, the share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth of health care costs is down,” Obama said. “That’s good for our middle class, and that’s good for our fiscal future.”

Much of the president’s speech focused on the various benefits of the Affordable Care Act, such as allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plans until the age of 26, expanding preventive care, closing Medicare’s prescription drug “donut hole,” and preventing insurers from imposing monetary limits on the coverage they provide.

The president also took a moment to needle Republican opponents of the law, to laughter and applause from his enthusiastic crowd.

“I’ve got to admit I don’t get it. Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance?” Obama asked. “Why are they so mad about the idea of someone having health insurance?”

“Many of the tall tales that have been told about this law have been debunked,” he continued. “There are still no death panels. Armageddon has not arrived.”

“But the debate over repealing this law is over,” he added. “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”

AFP Photo/Jewel Samad

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