President Obama is applauding a milestone in the evolution of the Affordable Care Act.  A last-minute surge pushed enrollment in HealthCare.gov to more than seven-million people.  Speaking in the Rose Garden, the President said millions of people have been able to find quality, affordable health insurance and "peace of mind."  He stressed that enrollees will no longer have to worry about being driven into bankruptcy by serious illnesses.  Obama argued that the Affordable Care Act has not fixed the nation's broken healthcare system but has made it "a lot better." 

The President noted that people who started the process before Monday's midnight deadline will be given time to complete their enrollments.  He also argued that the pace of healthcare costs has slowed since passage of the healthcare reform law, his signature legislative accomplishment.  HealthCare.gov is the federal website for the new health insurance exchanges.  After a disastrous launch in October, enrollment figures have steadily increased.  The exchanges exist primarily for people who do not have access to employer-provided health insurance. 

The President likened the Affordable Care Act to Social Security and Medicare.  He said the popular entitlement programs were also controversial and faced problems when they were implemented.  Obama accused critics of making up stories and trying to scare people without offering any credible alternatives.  He said the Republican fight to repeal the law is over and vowed that the Affordable Care Act is "here to stay."  (Metro Networks Inc.)