Martha's Vineyard Resident Waltzes Freely Into West Wing

Barack Obama joins President Biden to celebrate Affordable Care Act for second time in a year

Former president Barack Obama / Getty Images
April 4, 2022

Barack Obama is returning to the White House on Tuesday to celebrate the passage of his signature 2010 health care bill, apparently the first visit of its kind by a former president in recent memory.

Obama will join President Joe Biden—along with Vice President Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra—in hailing the achievements of the Affordable Care Act, a White House official said Sunday. It will be the first time Obama has visited since his exit in 2016. Obama did not visit former president Donald Trump in the White House, and neither George W. Bush nor Bill Clinton paid visits to their successors.

Obama's visit comes as Biden pivots to address pocketbook issues such as inflation, gas prices, and job vacancies—all of which are at record highs. His administration has recently promised "to further strengthen the ACA and save families hundreds of dollars a month on their health care." Obama and Biden sat down less than a year ago in June for a virtual meeting to praise the legislation's success.

"If I had a dime for everyone who said to me, over the last two years campaigning and as president, tell the president, meaning you, thank you. It saved my life," Biden said.

The Affordable Care Act faced repeated legal challenges in the last decade, ending with the Supreme Court upholding it in full. The law insures about 12 million Americans in its Medicaid expansion program but kicked more than 6 million Americans off their individual health care plans after it took effect in 2013.

Since his departure from the Oval Office, Obama has made a series of lucrative media business deals. In March 2017, the former president and his wife signed a joint $65 million book deal to write memoirs. In 2018, they signed a deal with Netflix reportedly worth more than $50 million.

Michelle Obama's Becoming went on to become a New York Times bestseller in 2018. The Obamas' production company, Higher Ground, later released an accompanying documentary. Barack Obama published A Promised Land, the first volume of his two-part memoir, days after the 2020 presidential election. In it, he made scant reference to the role Biden played in passing Obamacare. The couple also never contributed to Biden's campaign.

Obama has previously expressed a lack of confidence in his former vice president. Before the 2020 campaign, he reportedly warned one Democrat, "Don't underestimate Joe's ability to fuck things up."

The Obamas in 2019 purchased a mansion on Martha's Vineyard for $11.8 million. Since leaving office, the former president has appeared as a guest on David Letterman's Netflix series and on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

"One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life," Obama has said of his time in the White House.