By Julia Hotz
“Obamacare,” “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” “Universal Health Care,” “Socialism.”
Not only do people disagree on what to call it, but citizens are also divided on whether or not these health care reform measures are good or bad for our country.
The essence of these laws, first passed by President Obama in early 2010, is that “individuals who are not covered by employer or government sponsored insurance plans” receive “minimal health care.”
These laws also provide for increased insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions, expanded accessibility to 30 million Americans, a rise in projected national medical spending, and a decrease in projected Medicare spending.
Like many issues in America, this act has caused quite a divide between the Republican and Democratic Parties.
However, as a registered independent, I will do my best to examine both sides of the argument from a nonpartisan standpoint.
Proponents of the reform, such as American Public Health Association Director Doctor Georges C. Benjamin, describe the new law as “guaranteeing millions of Americans access to quality, affordable care regardless of health status. It will decrease rates of the nation’s leading chronic diseases, control soaring health spending and strengthen our battered public health infrastructure.”
Benjamin agrees with Obama’s idea that this act will greatly improve the “quality of life” in America.
Obama supports this claim by noting that patients with pre-existing conditions can now receive coverage, and that all citizens will be offered free preventive care.
Supporters of the act also note how America is one of the only “economically-able” countries that have not instituted universal health care.
Yet opponents of the law argue that America, currently in deep federal debt, is not economically able to provide for universal health care, and that this legislation would actually raise federal deficits by more than $500 billion.
In addition, challengers of this law, such as Speaker of the House John Boehner, believe that “more than 87 million Americans could lose access to their current health care plan under the new law,” and thus it would have an opposite effect.
They further contend that the quality of care would suffer, and there aren’t enough physicians to meet the demands of this plan.
This health care debate is the furthest thing from modern. In fact, the first federal health care proposal came in 1854 with the “Bill for the Benefit of the Indigent Insane,” which would have “established asylums for the indigent insane, as well as the blind, deaf and dumb, via federal land grants.” It was not passed, however, as it was vetoed by 14th President Franklin Pierce, who argued that the “federal government should not commit itself to social welfare, which he believed was properly the responsibility of the states.” However, if this law had been suggested one hundred years later, after the “role reversing, executive-strengthening” presidency of FDR, perhaps it would have been passed.
Getting back to the central question, I truly don’t know whether or not these laws would be good for the nation. On one hand, it blows my mind that we are one of the only first world countries to not have universal health care, and it tugs at my heart strings to see families who can’t take their kids to the doctor because they cannot pay for it. On the other hand, the constitutionality of this law, as well as the practicality of it, are some components I question. I would argue that debating the health care reform law is kind of like asking what color we should paint a crumbling house; I believe there are many problems we need to fix within our health care system before the question of making it universal is relevant.