“This is what change looks like”
On Sunday President Obama finally achieved victory bringing an end to a yearlong partisan struggle for universal healthcare in the U.S.
The U.S is closer than ever to historic health insurance reform that will extend coverage to more than 30 million Americans, provide security and stability to those who have health insurance, and shift power from insurance companies to consumers.
One of President Barack Obama’s key campaign promises was for Congress to pass health care reform. Obama’s emphasised the importance for this and proposed an expansion of health insurance coverage to cover the uninsured, to cap premium increase, and to allow people to retain their coverage when they leave or change jobs.
Obama’s Healthcare Reform Proposal
In order to achieve this he would need to spend $900 billion over 10 years and include a government insurance plan, also referred to as the public option, to compete with the corporate insurance sector as a main component to lowering costs and improving the quality of health care.
Obama’s proposal would also make it illegal for insurers to drop sick people or deny them coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Another condition of the plan is that every American would be required to carry health coverage. Obama also included that he would make medical spending cuts and taxes on insurance companies that offer expensive plans.
Obama, now the U.S. president, has been focusing the U.S health care reform insistently and on March 21, 2010, the health care bill passed by the Senate in December was passed in the House by a vote of 219 to 212. Obama signed the bill into law on March 23, 2010.
Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi poured nearly all their political strength into passing this landmark health care bill that will mark Obama’s legacy and shape the elections of 2010 and beyond.
Obama’s plan aims to ensure health care is made affordable for working families
Republicans’ Renewed Ability to Block Legislation with Senate filibusters
However the process that Obama went through to achieve this momentous change involved many an obstacle along the way. This includes the Republicans’ renewed ability to block legislation with Senate filibusters.
After Edward M. Kennedy lost his Massachusetts Senate seat the Democratic lawmakers still were arguing among themselves and unsure how to proceed against the Republicans’ renewed ability to block legislation.
Along the campaign a major insurance company, California-based Anthem Blue Cross, also planned to raise premiums by 39 percent. However this was the perfect opportunity for Obama to highlight his fellow American’s about the cost of not acting on this.
This gave Obama’s bill a very positive lift. As Nancy-Ann DeParle, a top White House adviser, put it was a “clarifying moment” in the long, fiery health care debate.
Another seven weeks of political warfare would pass before the president and Democratic leaders persuaded, pleaded and pushed the legislation through an angrily divided House, cutting deals to the final hours and ending with only three votes to spare.
Obama said at a White House ceremony Tuesday, 23 March, “The bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see.”
Can Obama’s Healthcare Plan Solve Underlying Problems?
Although Obama’s health care plan, which seeks to bring insurance to 32 million Americans who otherwise wouldn’t have access to affordable care, seems like a positive move forwards, sceptics think that the bill will do little to solve underlying problems, and that the complex and detailed legislation has implications that are not even known yet.
The cost of the bill is around a trillion dollars. The proponents of the bill claim that it will save billions off the nation’s deficit over the next ten years, but opponents point out that ten years of taxes will be used for six years of benefits considering the bill won’t come into effect until 2014.
However Obama claims that the bill will provide benefits to individuals by allowing them to avoid “job lock” which is a phenomenon where someone stays in a job because of the employer sponsored health care benefits.