Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, President Obama said that Martin Luther King, Jr. would like his signature law, the Affordable Care Act.
"I think he understood that health care, health security is not a privilege, it's something that in a country as wealthy as ours, everybody should have access to," Mr. Obama said in an radio interview with the "Tom Joyner Morning Show" that aired Tuesday. "And starting on October 1, because of the Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare -- anybody who doesn't have health insurance in this country is going to be able to get it at an affordable rate."
On October 1, open enrollment is slated to begin for the new, state-based health insurance exchanges. The exchanges are online marketplaces where consumers will be able to purchase private health insurance plans, with coverage beginning in 2014. The administration and state officials are currently engaged in outreach campaigns to encourage people -- especially young, healthy people -- to join the exchanges.
The law, however, still faces strong opposition. Some of its biggest opponents in Congress, including Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are participating in a tea party "Exempt America from Obamacare" rally in Washington next month.
In a White House blog post earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius similarly tied King's legacy with the Affordable Care Act.
"When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the March on Washington, he described a 'fierce urgency of now,'" Sebelius wrote. "A half century later, Dr. King's words have renewed meaning... Because of the Affordable Care Act, we are one step closer to fulfilling the promise, freedom, and opportunity for millions of Americans to live a healthy, secure life."
President Obama will deliver a speech on Wednesday at the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the anniversary of the March on Washington.
"All I can do on an occasion like this is just to celebrate the accomplishments of all of those folks whose shoulders we stand on and then remind people that the work is still out there for us to do, and that we honor his speech but also, more importantly in many ways, the organization of the ordinary people who came out for that speech," he told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. "We honor them not by giving another speech ourselves -- because it won't be as good -- but instead by just doing the day-to-day work to make sure this is a more equal and more just society."