This week, as the Congress' healthcare plan was passed and signed into law, both sides of the aisle hoped to spin it in their favor. President Obama claimed, "this is what change looks like" in a statement after discovering the bill had been passed into law. House Speaker Pelosi used the gavel that was used to pass Medicare to pass the bill. Meanwhile on the right, Senator John McCain claimed that he would end cooperating with the other side until the 2010 election. Both sides are planning to use this bill as fodder for the upcoming
However, after taking a closer look at the healthcare bill, there is not nearly enough to cause a riot on the right, and not nearly enough to pop open a bottle and celebrate on the left. For one, it still leaves approximately 15 million Americans uninsured. The bill does nothing to curb costs for unnecessary paperwork. Also, there are still loopholes for fraud on behalf of insurance companies. In addition, without a Public Option, aka a government run alternative to private insurance, premiums will still go up.
In response to the Right's concerns, there is no federal funding for abortions in the bill. In fact, there was no such concern and in Section 1301(B)(1)(B) of the bill, it states, "Abortions, for which public funding is prohibited." In addition, there is no such thing as the death panels that would not cover certain surgeries for sick and dying, which were hailed as Eugenics by far right extremists like Sarah Palin and Churck Grassley. In truth, the proposal was to reimburse doctors through health insurance money for having a discussion for end-of-life treatment with a patient. In addition, there is no such thing as a government takeover. In fact, the final plan bears more resemblance to President Richard Nixon's attempts to overhaul the healthcare system through private insurance. There is no government alternative and in truth, there is simply tighter regulation for the private sector.
In truth, the bill does have many upsides to it. Among the most beneficial are that by 2014, insurance companies will not be able to discriminate against adults due to a pre-existing condition and discrimination against children begin immediately. College students and children can stay on their parent's healthcare plan until they are 27. Also, health insurance companies will now cover preventive care, which is decidedly cheaper than health care once somebody is sick.
That being said however, this bill should not be the end of healthcare reform. As mentioned previously, there are still 15 million Americans that will be uninsured after this bill takes effect and there is still incentives for insurance companies to raise rates on people with higher risk of getting sick, rather than just dropping them. As the late Senator Ted Kennedy once claimed, healthcare reform is a never ending process and we must continue to build upon it just like we did for previous programs.
When Social Security was first enacted in 1935, under President Franklin Roosevelt, it was a very meager program, despite accusations that Roosevelt and his cabinet was full of Reds and Commies. It was created only with the intention of helping relieve the burden off of state pension programs during the heat of the Depression. However, as time progressed on, it would go onto to help people who have been forced into early retirement due to happenings such as disability, or blindness.
In the same manner, health care reform is not a stoic thing. It is not a law chisled in stone or some holy document, it is created to help those in need and must change as the times and the needs of the people living in that time change.