By Hussain Bokhari ‘15
With healthcare.gov finally up and running, opposition to universal health coverage continues to shadow an on-going partisan debate.
Healthcare reform, being one of the top issues in the liberal agenda, was naturally met with conservative contempt. Ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” the government has increased its role in providing social welfare to all, according to Physicians for a National Health Program. This allowed for two revolutionary programs, Medicare and Medicaid, to expand the availability of healthcare to senior citizens and the less fortunate. As any controversial bill, they received both strong support from liberal thinkers and disapproval from conservatives. It’s not so surprising then that the two political rivals’ conflicting views on the newest addition to healthcare reform shut the federal government down last October.
“Medicare and Medicaid are naturally the predecessors to the Affordable Care Act since they both were also partisan-favored programs and aimed to provide health insurance to millions of more people,” said Donald Ceus ’15.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nicknamed “Obamacare,” was signed into law on March 23, 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In nearly a thousand pages, the bill explains its many goals, one of which is to ensure affordable healthcare for every American. Additionally, it prevents insurance providers from denying benefits to youth with pre-existing conditions and keeps those below the age of 26 under their parents’ insurance.
Despite its good intentions it wasn’t taken in with open arms, and still isn’t. According to the article “Unpopular Mandate” in The New Yorker, House Republicans have voted 50 times to repeal the piece of legislation since it was enacted. The bill was even taken to the Supreme Court, who upheld the law and its constitutionality under Congress’s implied power to tax. There must be some appalling effect of the Affordable Care Act for all the hostility it has received.
“Disagreement is one thing, but I think it’s senseless that Republicans abused their majority in the House only to attempt stubborn repeals of healthcare reform,” said Mohammad Arshad ’15.
It’s true that in the early years of this program, before enough citizens and companies cooperate, the government must fill the void with an increase in expenditures and further enforcement. This relatively increases the scope of the federal government while simultaneously causing taxes to skyrocket; it’s completely normal for republicans to oppose such a proposition. However, this bill would provide free emergency services in hospitals, which many without healthcare take advantage of.
Looking at our history, plenty of beneficial social programs needed a kick before they could get rolling. Social Security, another product of the “New Deal,” had trouble starting because it was structured to feed off taxes from the past in order to give pensions to retirees. Similar to healthcare, senior citizens didn’t cooperate with the program and continued to avoid retirement. After a generation of federal involvement, it finally became one of the most successful welfare programs in the last century, and continues to be. Regardless of success in the past, the Affordable Care Act remains a hostile policy in the eyes of Americans, who don’t think it’s necessary.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, an estimated 85 million Americans did not have health insurance in 2012. As a result, almost half of all bankruptcies declared that year were due to medical expenses. If that isn’t enough motivation for change, how about the U.S. ranking number 46 in healthcare efficiency in the world, according to healthline.com. With its shaky initiation, healthcare signups reached almost 7 million in the last few months,0 a true testament to what the American people think of the Affordable Care Act.
“In their long history, progressive policies always survived heavy opposition because they reached out to and affected millions of people living in disparity,” said Daniaal Chaudhry ’14. “The Affordable Care Act started off as an upsetting bill but has become more ideal after people realized its potential.”
The night is darkest just before the dawn. The next few years may bring higher taxes and call for regulatory enforcement of insurance companies. Opposition will surely not cease, but instead grow to higher numbers as many will assume healthcare is on the verge of decline. However, all social programs are unproductive in the short run. It’s the next generation of Americans, and all generations after, who will benefit from this brilliant program. One day, every citizen will have health insurance, as in Canada and the United Kingdom, and we’ll be one step closer to being a more perfect nation.