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Biden marks anniversary of Obamacare law that 'changed America'

US President Joe Biden holds the baby son of a Democratic congressman at a speech on government-subsidized healthcare. ©AFP

Washington (AFP) - President Joe Biden on Thursday celebrated the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, an expansion of government-subsidized health insurance that he said had "changed America" but is under threat from his Republican opponents.

Foreshadowing a major theme of what is expected to be his bid for a second term in 2024, Biden said he was working to lower costs in the notoriously expensive US healthcare system while fending off Republican pressure to cut government funding.

"Even now, MAGA Republicans in Congress are intent on repealing the Affordable Care Act," Biden told a White House celebration event, referring to the hard right wing of the Republicans led by former president and candidate for 2024 Donald Trump.

"It's clear it would have a devastating impact on the American people."

Republicans have repeatedly sought and failed to repeal the law popularly known as Obamacare since it was passed by the narrowest of majorities in 2010, when Biden was vice president under Barack Obama.

"We made history," Biden said.

"We changed America.We gave millions of people peace of mind.We did something else: we also took a giant step toward realizing the fundamental principle that we hold as Democrats and as Americans -- that healthcare is a right, not a privilege," he said.

"We're not all the way there yet, but there's more to do.So let's finish the job," he added, reprising a phrase now sprinkled through his speeches amid speculation that he will soon announce his 2024 campaign.

Biden tore into Republicans, saying the Trump wing had taken over and this is not "your father's Republican Party."

He noted the lack of Republican support for his recent expansion of healthcare subsidies through the Inflation Reduction Act and moves to use the purchasing power of state-run programs like Medicaid to push pharmaceutical giants into negotiating lower prices for medicines.

"For decades...we tried to take on Big Pharma, but we finally won," he said to cheers from the crowd of Democratic lawmakers and other supporters.

Biden's attack comes as Republicans are debating on a proposed national budget.Biden has already laid out his preferred version of the budget, which would raise taxes on rich Americans to protect funding for social spending -- something Republican leaders have said they won't support.

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