Friday is the second anniversary of the Obama administration’s health care reform. This is one of the most important legislations in recent years, expanding health insurance coverage to millions of uninsured and establishing patient protections in view of the inhumane actions of the health insurance industry.
The law came about in response to general concern about exorbitant increases in health care costs and the sad reality of millions of uninsured Americans. The system of guaranteeing health coverage through employment has been disintegrating, and illness has become one of the main causes of personal bankruptcy. The reasons for the change were many.
On the other hand, the political realities President Obama found in Congress prevented him from fulfilling several of his election promises. In the case of health care reform, the president was reluctant to listen to recommendations from White House staff not to get involved in a project with such a high political price and so few possibilities.
The final version of the law, which resulted from negotiations with lawmakers and interest groups, was far from what was expected. The reform passed without a public coverage option, leaving in place a private system without effective cost control. An ambitious health care system reform was reduced to changing the health care coverage system, posing numerous challenges for implementation at the state level. However, this legislation is a vast improvement for consumers compared to the situation before the law was passed.
At the same time, the GOP has turned this reform into its sticking point against the president’s re-election. From the beginning, they unfairly accused the law of seeking to destroy the private system and establish “death panels.” They also talk about the mandatory requirement for everyone to have insurance as if it were a loss of freedom instead of an act of personal responsibility. It is unbelievable that Congress Republicans have even compared this law to slavery.
Next week, a key process in the law’s future will begin when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a lawsuit against the reform. There is no doubt the high court’s decision will end the legal argument and influence the presidential election.
Meanwhile, the parts of the law that have been implemented are very positive for the Latino community, which has the highest percentage of uninsured. Today, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage as they see fit when it is not profitable for them. Just this aspect makes the reform one of the White House’s accomplishments.