President Barack Obama visited Milwaukee Thursday to praise the city on its increased enrollment in the Affordable Care Act program.
In November, the White House invited 20 U.S. cities to compete in the Healthy Communities Challenge, which strove to register the most uninsured citizens for Obama’s health care plan before the latest open enrollment deadline. Proportional to its population, Milwaukee came in first place.
“Milwaukee came out on top,” Obama said in his speech, held at the United Community Center in Milwaukee. “You get the bragging rights this year.”
According to a White House press release, 38,000 new enrollees gained health coverage in Milwaukee since the challenge was introduced.
Obama commended the communitywide effort that led to the city’s victory. Throughout the enrollment process, volunteers helped enrollees select the best plan for them through phone banks and in-person consultations, set up in libraries and other public spaces around the city.
The city also partnered with Uber to provide rides to enrollment locations. These efforts were implemented to target minorities in the black, Latino and Hmong communities.
“This city should be proud,” Obama said. “You did the best job of looking out for each other and taking care of each other and I’m here to say congratulations.”
Obama also took the opportunity to criticize the conservative base that has vocally opposed his program since its inception, focusing on local leaders in Wisconsin.
“By the way, Milwaukee, while you worked your tails off to cover enough folks to fill Lambeau Field, your governor still refuses to expand Medicaid in this state,” Obama said. “He’s denying Wisconsinites their ticket to health insurance, and it’s political.”
He also called out House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R.-Wis., as part of the Republican establishment he says is spreading misinformation about the success of the ACA, while failing to provide any semblance of a viable alternative. Milwaukee’s success, President Obama said, is the evidence that the right-winged outcry against his health care plan is only political.
Including those that also renewed their enrollment, 89,000 Milwaukeeans are now covered under the Affordable Care Act.