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Governor Patrick: Affordable Care Act ‘deserves to be defended’

The Affordable Care Act is a “value statement,” affirming that access to health care is a public health concern, Governor Deval Patrick said Wednesday morning. Speaking after an appearance with Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to promote the National Prevention Strategy, Patrick declined to offer predictions about how the law will fare next week as the US Supreme Court hears a case challenging the law. But he offered an opinion on how he thinks it should go.

“I think it is within the authority of the Congress to make a value statement on behalf of the nation,” he said. “It deserves to be defended. It deserves to be supported.”

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Of course, Patrick has been a vocal supporter of the law, which was modeled on the one passed in Massachusetts in 2006.

He cited a long list of accomplishments in the six years since the state required most residents to have coverage and created a market of subsidized plans for those who needed help in purchasing insurance: 98 percent of residents are covered, including nearly all children; spending on the uninsured is down; and more people are getting necessary preventive care.

Then, he added, “Premiums are also going down.”

That’s not exactly true. While the governor is pushing hard for the Legislature to pass a bill this spring aimed at reigning in health care costs, premiums continue to rise overall, though more slowly than in years past. A spokeswoman said the governor meant to say premium increases are dropping.

Patrick also joked that the nicknames widely used to describe the state and national laws -- RomneyCare and ObamaCare -- should be replaced.

“I think they ought to call it BigbyCare,” he said, a nod to state Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby, who has overseen implementation of the state law during Patrick’s tenure.

Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at cconaboy@boston.com. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.
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