WASHINGTON– United States is the only industrialized nation without universal health care for its citizens. Virtually, every other country around the globe provides its citizens with some form of government subsidized health coverage. In this country, the only form of universal health care is that which is available to the elderly and to those receiving social assistance.
Passage of a universal health care legislation has proven difficult. President Clinton attempted it during his tenure but without success. Obama made universal health care a center piece of his campaign for the White House. Once elected, he tried to deliver on his campaign promise by enacting universal health care early in his presidency.
Almost immediately, the Republicans in the House and the Senate lined up in opposition. The medical community too opposed a major overhaul of the current system but argued for increased reimbursement to doctors and hospitals. The private employers who have seen their employee health care costs go up every year supported health care reforms but so long as it did not affected their bottom line. The consumers were fearful of government rationing of health care largely in response to an intense public relations campaign waged by insurance companies.
The President with the support of Democrats in both the House and the Senate passed a historic legislation, overhauling the nation’s health care system. The legislation known more informally as ObamaCare is a complicated web of rules that aim to create medical coverage for most Americans through a system of public and private partnership. By all accounts, the new system is expected to cost $2.6 trillion with most of its details still to be worked out. The most controversial piece of ObamaCare is the mandate that individuals not otherwise covered by employer sponsored plans purchase private health insurance that is partially subsidized by public funds.
The mandate to purchase insurance has come under a furious attack by special interest groups and Republicans who argue the law is unconstitutional because it infringes on individual freedoms. Two federal courts have already declared ObamaCare unconstitutional. The Obama administration remains undeterred by recent court rulings and shows no signs of compromise with the Republicans.
The Republican dominated House has voted to repeal the entire legislation. This move is largely symbolic because there is not enough support for the repeal of ObamaCare in the Senate. The Republicans are also threatening to withhold funding for the program if Obama’s health care legislation is not repealed. In the meantime, the Obama administration is appealing both federal court decisions.