President Obama vowed Thursday to press forward with implementing his federal health care overhaul, declaring "the highest court in the land has now spoken."
The president, speaking from the East Room of the White House, called the Supreme Court's decision upholding most of the Affordable Care Act a "victory for people all over this country."
Minutes before he spoke, his Republican opponent Mitt Romney reaffirmed his vow to repeal the law. He called the law a "job-killer" that must be eliminated for the sake of the economy.
But Obama said "it's time to move forward."
"The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law," Obama said. He said he will not "re-fight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were."
The president, in defending his signature policy, rattled off a string of the more popular provisions from the law -- guaranteed coverage, a provision allowing those under age 26 to stay on their parents' plan and a ban on lifetime insurance pay-out caps.
"They've reaffirmed a fundamental principle -- that here in America, the wealthiest nation on earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family's financial ruin," Obama said.
He also defended the individual mandate -- the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance -- which was upheld Thursday. Obama said it's important for all who can afford it to buy insurance, so that everyone else doesn't end up paying higher premiums when they get sick. Plus he said it's important to require insurance, so that the insurance companies themselves can handle all the new regulations governing their product.
But Republicans are vowing to make the issue a centerpiece of the 2012 race, as Romney vows to eliminate and replace the law if elected.
"What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States," Romney said Thursday. "And that is I will act to repeal ObamaCare."
The Republican presidential candidate stressed that the court did not speak to the merits of the policy itself.
"What the court did today was say that ObamaCare does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do was say that ObamaCare is good law or that it's good policy. ObamaCare was bad policy yesterday. It's bad policy today."