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Can the GOP Succeed by Running Against Health Care? Having staked the success of his presidency on the longstanding Democratic dream of universal health care, President Obama finally achieved victory on Sunday night, bringing an end to a yearlong partisan struggle. This legislation will not fix everything that ails our health care system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction,” Obama said shortly after the historic vote. This is what change looks like.
If we pass this bill, there will be no turning back,” warned minority leader John Boehner. It will be the last straw for the American people. Suspense about the outcome continued until the final hours of the debate. The second bill passed by the House late Sunday will make adjustments to the legislation, such as lowering the impact of an excise tax on high-value insurance plans and stripping out some sweetheart deals like the now infamous cornhusker kickback, using a process known as budget reconciliation.
Such changes would be filibuster-proof in the Senate, though that process could still drag on a while if Republicans choose to draw it out with objections and amendments. As the House debated throughout the day, hundreds of protesters from the Tea Party movement rallied on the Capitol lawn, chanting, “Kill the bill. Democrats also got into the act. Sheila Jackson-Lee, a liberal Democrat from Texas, said she went down among the protesters saying, “God bless America.
She also flashed two fingers in a mischievous V for victory. Someone flipped a third finger,” she said. On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the President and his team were waiting and working the phones to make sure the final votes were nailed down. There was also the distraction of March Madness to pass the hours. One aide said of Obama: “He’s in the West Wing, getting updates, dropping in on staff, and like the rest of America, examining the rubble of his bracket.
With passage of the legislation, Obama has achieved the signature domestic goal of his presidency, and the most sweeping piece of social legislation since the 1960s Great Society initiatives that saw the passage of Medicare and Medicaid. Universal coverage is a goal that has eluded Presidents going at least as far back as Teddy Roosevelt, and Obama’s bill comes as close to that target as anyone has. The bill also promises to rein in health costs by reorienting the practice of medicine, making it more efficient, with health care providers rewarded on how well they treat their patients, rather than how much care they give them. Whether it actually achieves that latter ambition, however, is far more uncertain. In the early years, most Americans will see only minor changes in the health care system. It will almost immediately end some insurance-company practices, such as denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
And dependent children under the age of 26 would be allowed to remain on their parents’ policies if they cannot get health insurance elsewhere. Adults with pre-existing conditions would also be able to buy coverage through expanded high-risk pools. Beginning in 2014, more far-reaching measures will begin to take effect. States would be required to set up new “exchanges,” or insurance marketplaces, that would offer a variety of health care plans for small businesses and individuals who do not get coverage from their employers.