One of the platforms Barack Obama declared as early as his Presidential campaigns was a health care reform. For years, attempts to improve health care in the United States have been apparent as a means to ensure the universality of health care in terms of its accessibility, efficiency and effectiveness.
However, among the developed nations in the world, United States ranks significantly lower; in a 2000 report by the World Health Organization, the United States ranked 37th.
This is a dismal ranking considering that the country has rated significantly when it comes to responsiveness and quality, but what has made the US health care lower has been due to the presence of equity (disparity between the quality of care provided between the rich and the poor), insurance coverage, satisfaction, information technology, and access (The New York Times).
With this condition of health care in the United States, it has become one of President Barack Obama’s main priorities upon his induction as the new chief executive of the country.
In the midst of a critical economic state of recession and bankruptcy, one of President Obama’s intention is to battle a social issue that should be rightfully provided to America’s citizens. The reform targets to “bring down costs, expand coverage, and improve quality”; the proposed allocated budget for this initiative is $ 635 billion as distributed for the next ten years (Health Reform).
Although the reform is well-intended, it has been having a difficult time getting passed in Congress; despite the support of the Democrats for the bill, the Republicans and some “conservative” Democrats have expressed hesitation towards passing this bill. There are many reasons why so; a first aspect is that the reform would require a significant budget which would add deficit to the current economic state.
A second factor is that it would mean restructuring in terms of the resources allocations such as, for instance, the amount of taxes that would be paid with. A third factor is the lack of the expected bipartisanship in the initiative, especially as the Republicans greatly oppose the bill.
A fourth issue is that it would affect the business of many insurers as the health industry has been a major playing ground for business interests. These are just among the many opposing factors against the health plan, and evidently, even though this is meant to respond to the social services needs of the people, the health system issue has become among the most politically-charged debates at present.
The Republicans’ Anti-Reform Campaigns
In a report by Bacon and Fletcher, the Republicans launched new strikes that aim to put a stop on President Obama’s health bills. One of the main aspects that have increased the confidence of the Republicans was the prevailing anxiety over the state of the economy and the presence of some Democrats who remain to be divided over the bill.
This time, the effort is based to link both the economic and health issues as a means to demonstrate that President Obama’s “failed” handling of the economy would also reflect in his failure to handle the proposals of the health care reform. The article cites a statement from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), as follows:
“The last time the president made grand promises and demanded passage of a bill before it could be reviewed, we ended up with the colossal stimulus failure and unemployment near 10 percent […] Now the president wants Americans to trust him again, but he can’t back up the utopian promises he’s making.
The economic stimulus package, President Obama’s initial strategy upon entering the presidency, has been apparently facing certain criticisms mainly because it has yet to pick up on the state of the economy.
This is to say that after the bill was passed, the people have yet to feel how the package would turn out to be a good decision; according to the President’s objectives when as to the stimulus, the package was aimed to create new jobs as the injected funds would initiate more work across the country.
However, recent economic indicators show otherwise; unemployment has been increasing in the past few months, and the economy remains to be in a dire situation. Although the economic crisis is inherited by the current administration, the atmosphere of restlessness has been widespread.
Criticisms towards health care has been due to the required spending in order to reform it; in addition, the reforms would overhaul the current system which may result to greatly affecting the businesses that have been operating in the industry.
In a sense, the opposition may not mean that the current system is at its best, but rather, there is the hesitation towards taking a great risk in creating such change. As the Bacon and Fletcher’s article cite Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele’s words, the reform was “a reckless experiment with our health care […] a reckless experiment with our economy”.
The basis as to the Republicans’ rejection of the health care bill is also attributed to their aim to express control at the House; the entry of politics is that given that the current administration is dominated by Democrats, “Republican ideas” may seem hard to come through.
With the health care issue already eating up a significant amount of the budget, in addition to the current bill potentially threatening the special interests that some Republicans may be lobbying for, having this issue passed on similar to the economic stimulus bill may indicate that the Republicans are also losing control in the House.
Politics aside, certain ideas as to how best to reform health care is ideally a bipartisan move. Hence, Democrats have been challenging Republicans as to their proposal in reforming health care. So far the need to reform the system, according to the Republican approaches, can be regarded to also have its major weaknesses.
As Bacon and Fletcher mentioned, some Republicans have also offered their own health care solutions, but in the end, the coverage would not help a substantial amount of Americans. The authors pointed out that the Republican legislation has so far does not extend these services, through the form of health insurance, to 46-47 million Americans who currently do not possess premiums.
The Democrats, as can be seen in the reform, aim to cover this significant number of people. In addition, the GOP’s proposed legislation also include the reduction of medical malpractice lawsuits, easier access to health insurance for the self-employed, and recommended rewards programs among companies for their employees who have taken a step towards health such as weight reduction and quitting smoking.
Despite the opposing sides in this issue, Bacon and Fletcher also reported that there were some Republican senators whom the Democrats have been reaching out to; these include Sen.
Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa), Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine). On behalf of the Democrats, Max Baucus (D-Mont), Finance Committee Chairman, has been meeting with this small group as a means to negotiate a more bipartisan bill.