US Congress passes health reforms
by Despina Doukas
After months of deliberation, the US Congress approved a historical health care reform on Sunday, which aims to make health care more affordable and health insurers more accountable, to expand health coverage to all Americans and to make the health system sustainable, which would stabilize family budgets, the Federal budget, and the economy.
President Obama, who has made health care reform his primary goal since he came into office, was ecstatic about the decision.
“After nearly 100 years of talk and frustration, and decades of trying […] we proved we are a people capable of doing big things,” the President said, as was reported by the Globe and Mail.
Although the President was very proud of the decision, many were opposed to the health care bill passing in the US.
With the vote passing 224 to 206, the Republican Party unanimously opposed the President’s proposed health reform, fearing what it would do to the already faltering economy. According to the National Post, some opponents claimed the reforms would worsen already high health spending.
According to the Globe and Mail, the new reform will require Americans to buy health insurance, providing huge subsidies to the poor so they can afford it. Those who refuse to buy insurance face fines of up to $695 US.
The reforms outlined in the legislation are estimated to cost $940-billion over 10 years, but are also expected to bring coverage levels close to 95 percent of the population resulting in significant reductions in the soaring costs of health-care, which – in the United States – are nearly double those of other Western nations.
According to the Globe and Mail, under the new reform, private health care insurers will come under federal control and would be banned from imposing caps on payments, from denying coverage to those with pre-existing medical conditions and from cancelling policies when someone falls ill. In addition, more than $400-billion in new taxes will be imposed in the first decade- raised mostly through higher payroll taxes on wealthy Americans, conditions that most Republicans and some Democrats are unhappy with.
“[The legislation] will explode the deficit; as it explodes the debt,” said Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to The Globe and Mail. “This bill is a fiscal Frankenstein. It is a government takeover. It’s not democratic.”
Although President Obama recognized the nation was greatly divided in the vote, he remained confident it was the right decision for America.
“I know this wasn’t an easy vote for a lot of people, but it was the right vote,” President Obama said. “This moment is possible because of you,” he added as he addressed Americans.