Repealing the Affordable Care Act is an "old political battle" that will "strip people of new coverage," White House officials and congressional Democrats said on a press call Thursday.
"We're hoping that Republicans will come to their senses and realize how valuable the Affordable Care Act is to the American people, not because the Democrats say so but because the American people believe it," said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas.
Among the benefits touted by the administration are the 129 million Americans with preexisting conditions—including 17 million children—who have access to health insurance; the 71 million Americans on private insurance who have benefited from at least one free preventive service; and the 3 million young adults who were allowed to stay on their parents' health plans until age 26.
Also on the call was Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., a proponent of mental-health reform and the leader behind the Affordable Care Act's mental-health parity provision, which provides 60 million Americans access to mental-health and substance-use-disorder services covered by insurance companies at the same rate as other health care services.
"I've heard about people who had coverage and they thought it was OK, but then they got sick and got dropped…. [There were] many concerns from seniors about high prescription drug costs….This is all changing," Stabenow said.
The White House's efforts to drum up attention about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act follow a renewed effort by Republicans to stop the president's signature law. Sen. John McCain of Arizona on Wednesday introduced a Senate companion bill to the House's Obamacare repeal-and-replace proposal from Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.
McCain said the law has been a disappointment for Americans who liked their coverage and wanted to keep it. But, the White House responded, repeal would "remove or eliminate" benefits some Americans are already receiving from the law.
"I do admit there are problems, but I say we have to roll up our sleeves together as Americans and fix them," said Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa.
Coverage under the law begins as early as Jan. 1 for consumers who sign up by Dec. 23. The repeal-and-replace proposal could come up as early as Jan. 6, when the Senate returns from the holiday recess.