‘Obama has shown he is willing to gamble’

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The US House of Represen-tatives’ nod to a health care reform bill is a historic milestone in the Democratic Party’s long struggle to make health care accessible to millions of citizens. The bill provides for health insurance to nearly all Americans and regulates the working of medical insurance companies. It does away with restrictive insurance practices such as refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. The bill will now go to the Senate where it is expected to pass easily before President Barack Obama signs into legislation. Health care reform was an important item on Obama’s election campaign agenda and he has delivered on it. This is his most important achievement in the 14 months since he assumed office as president. Health care reform was a goal that eluded his predecessors for almost a century. The bill’s passage is therefore no small accomplishment.
The issue of health care reform divides the US right down the middle. For many Americans who are suspicious of “big government,” the reform is a harmful government takeover of the mostly-private US health care system. Rich Americans are opposed to the higher taxes they will have to pay — around $900 billion will have to be raised over a decade — to make health care available to the poor. Then there are those who fear that the bill will enable public funds to be used for abortions. There are some who support the reform but believe that the bill in its present form does not go far enough. Indeed, the bill falls short of a state health system that many Obama supporters wanted. They are saying that the passage of the bill is merely a symbolic achievement.
The health care legislation could exact a high political price of the Democrats. They could end up losing seats in the Senate elections later this year. However, it must be borne in mind that the US health care system is among the worst in the world and badly in need of reform. It was the fear of risk that prevented several of Obama’s predecessors from pushing through health care and other reforms. Obama has shown that he is willing to gamble, however high the stakes, if it is in the interest of the poorer sections in America. The health care reform legislation falls short of expectations perhaps, but for his commitment to principle and tenacity that he displayed in pushing through the bill, Obama deserves a huge applause.
Courtesy: Deccan Herald.

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