With President Obama’s signature, historic health care reform bill has become the law of the land. Prior to his signature, the bill was passed in the House, and before that it was passed in the Senate. It was an extremely complicated and comprehensive bill with more than 2,000 pages, and it took more than a year to pass in both Houses after intense partisan debates.
Yes health care has become law, which many people considered dead a few weeks ago. It’s a monumental achievement for the new President and the Democratic Congress.
The comprehensive health care reform debate has been going on for a long time. Fourteen US presidents, starting with Teddy Roosevelt tried to pass comprehensive health care reform but it really happened on Barck Obama’s watch. While this legislation does not have any public option, it does have many pragmatic features. With some future fixes to be considered by the Senate, the law will cover 32 million uninsured Americans.
When fully implemented 95% of Americans would have coverage, compared with 83% that we have today. Beginning in 2014, everyone is required to be insured or pay a fine.
The Medicaid eligibility increased to 133% of the poverty rate from 100% at the current level.
A family of four earning less than $29,000 will be eligible for Medicaid under the law. Subsidies will be provided in a sliding scale to families making less than $88,000.
The so-called donut hole for elders in Medicare will be eliminated. Insurance companies can’t deny anyone coverage due to any pre-existence condition, nor do they can put a cap for a life time limit. Parents can cover their children until they are 26 years old.
However historic, this law will not solve all the problems of health care right away, but it will improve the overall fundamentals of health care management. The United States is the only industrial democracy without a universal health care system.
This law will not include universal health care for all Americans.
The law will still allow the market to play the main role in providing t coverage – but the law will make sure the health care industry works under regulatory guidance.
The insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital industries will remain main players in the game, but will not be as unilateral as it used to be – there will be some checks and balances.
Health care reform in the United States was long overdue. The health care industry always put profit over people.
America missed the opportunity to reform health care for a long time – but it has happened at last. Good health is a society’s best wealth.
Like all major legislation, health care law is not without pitfalls, but at this hour of American history, this law will create better, efficient and affordable health care. It will boost an economy that dragged for almost a decade.
Health care law will have stabilizing effect in the market. It’s the one sixth of our economy. Nevertheless, it’s not a radical change, but a major change as Obama righty said. It would be the next generation’s burden to make it better.
Nasir Ahmed is a professor of public administration in the GSU Political Science Department.