The recent passing of the health care bill marks a decisive moment for not only Obama’s tenure but also American society. Health care reform is an issue that few can claim not to have an opinion on, unlike most other divisive debates; and health care is rapidly evolving into one of the most partisan conflicts of our time. It is a topic of fierce personal and philosophical contention on both sides; each of which is quite certain of their opinion as being the unequivocal moral answer to very real problems.
It has been rare to turn on the T.V. in the past few months, flip to any major news channel and watch the daily feed without at least a mention of the seemingly sluggish progress of the health care reform bill. It’s notable, however, how bogged down in partisan debate this issue has become. Health care reform has been sitting on the backburner of the political agenda, while on the forefront of many Americans’ minds for years now. With a democratic president and large numbers of his party in the House and Senate, the battle over health care reform was bound to come to a head, which, in this case resulted in the House passing and Obama signing into law, what cnn.com proclaimed ‘the most sweeping social legislation in the past four decades.’
On the surface health care for all sounds great, but the actual bill and ideological divisions between proponents and opponents is much more complicated.
The vote last Sunday could not have been more representative of the conflicting views of democrats and republicans.
While the majority of democrats in the House voted in favor of the bill, more than 30 opposed it, with zero republicans approving the passing of this historic measure.
Between die-hard democrats, uncertain moderates, and zealously opposed republicans, the health care reform bill vote was a clear indication of the deep ideological rift regarding this crucial piece of legislation.
Perhaps the main and most important question is who wins and loses once this bill becomes law? Certainly the more than tens of millions of currently uninsured Americans stand to gain the greatest undeniable utility.
Having any health care at all is a huge step up from nothing. The debate then lies in all those who are currently insured, and those who will be picking up the cost for the still uninsured and the poor whose insurance will be subsidized by the government.
Rather than an answer regarding what is right and wrong, the emphasis now lies in contending what it fair for whom and how much.
Early on the main opposition to health care reform seemed to stem from the suddenly revived republican value of fiscal responsibility that was strangely absent during most of the Bush years of record deficit spending. The same politicians who approved war funding to blow billion-dollar holes in deserts on the other side of the Earth could not seem to console adding any amount to the already billowing national debt.
Perhaps realizing the contradiction in such a mindset, the argument swiftly swiveled onto a much more contentious and tangible issue than intangible numbers of dollars.
We have all heard the woeful warning wails of ‘death panels’ and most recently ‘baby killer.’ These emotional outcries seem to be the right’s best hope of contesting what will soon become law.
With little hope of stopping health care reform from actually happening, republicans can at least shout their opposition now, in hopes of saying ‘we told you so later.’
After all, the republicans have a lot to lose. The wealthy will be picking up some of the tab when reform goes into effect. Perhaps more dangerous than the actual monetary loss is the social precedent being set: rich subsidizing the poor.
This is surely a trend that nobody making a lot of money wants to see, and definitely reason for contention against any kind of social change results in downward redistribution of wealth.
Perhaps the problem with the health care reform debate is that there is no right or wrong answer. As clear as there is right and left, red and blue, politicians and the politically active seek to divide issues into partisan problems with partisan solutions.
Instead, there are only solutions and subsequent results. For this reason, health care reform is a good thing for the American people. You can argue about the slightly increased cost for all and potential lowering of industry innovation, but the fact remains that more people are going to benefit under the new health care laws.
‘ Whatever happens in the future; health care for none, some, or all, there are going to be those who ‘win’ and those who ‘lose.’ Nothing comes for free, and in the case of reforming health care, some will have to pick up the tab for the greater good of the majority.
Perhaps there are other solutions, but the republicans and former president Bush never offered anything substantial, and with the democrats and Obama hell-bent on reform, it will for now be the new way of health care in America. For now.