The visit is Obama’s first to the White House since the inauguration of former President Donald Trump in 2017.
Former United States President Barack Obama is set to return to the White House for the first time since handing over the country’s top job to his successor, former President Donald Trump, in 2017.
Obama will be returning to mark the 12th anniversary of the passage of his signature Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has survived three US Supreme Court hearings amid efforts by Republicans to repeal and replace the legislation.
The visit also comes President Joe Biden, who was serving as Obama’s vice president when the ACA was passed, has seen slumping popularity six months before the midterm elections, which will determine the makeup of the US House and Senate, which are both narrowly controlled by Democrats. A loss in either house would grind to a halt Biden’s legislative agenda, which has already faced an uphill battle since he took office in January 2021.
Obama, who served two terms as president from 2009 to 2017, remains a widely popular former president and is typically deployed to energise the party’s base.
Once considered politically radioactive, Democrats have also increasingly sought to strengthen efforts to shore up the ACAin advance of the polls in November.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the event on Tuesday, which was moved inside due to weather, was also a meeting of two pals.
“They are real friends, not just Washington friends,” said Psaki of Biden and Obama, who became close during their stint in the White House together.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration is also set to unveil a new measure that will fix an element of the ACA, which is also known as Obamacare, that left family members of those with access to affordable employer-provided health plans ineligible for certain subsidies. The omission has been known as the “family glitch”.
Obama has referred to his signature healthcare law as a “starter home” that Americans can build upon. Approximately 30 million people are insured through the legislation, which expanded Medicaid – a healthcare programme for lower-income citizens, created more subsidised insurance options, and created more stringent requirements for insurance provided by employers.
However, a key measure of the legislation, a requirement that residents either buy insurance or face tax penalties, was largely neutralised by a 2017 law.