Will health care cover all?

Thisanjali Gangoda

Now that the health care reform is more certain than ever in the United States, concessions are being made and the battle lines are being drawn between the Republicans and the Democrats. We watch as the typical ideological mud slinging worsens between representatives from both parties, with shouting matches contesting the need for health care reform and the direction it is going.

The Republican Party not only flat out refused to sign the bill, they made it clear how deeply disgusted they were about the process even occurring. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) was quoted saying that it is “one of the most offensive pieces of social engineering legislation in the history of the United States.”

I doubt that statement, considering that the No Child Left Behind Act is still doing damage to our already broken education system. Democrat and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi spoke of the reform as finally making health care a right that is protected for every American, rather than being just a privilege for a select few.

Despite both parties’ antics on the issue, the bill has passed and Democrats finally have solid ground to stand on.

Health care reform and this “change” are definite, considering the giant political and social hurdle America has leaped. An issue that has been culturally taboo and extremely contentious for at least half a century, we’ve accomplished what presidents Harry Truman, two Roosevelts, Bill Clinton and the American people of those times could not manage to agree on. It is truly a historic moment, but still there are many conflicts to be sorted out before the reform is appropriately enacted.

What about the economics of funding such a large government program that will cost roughly $938 billion over the next 10 years? It would be wise for the United States to start reforming the tax system as well, and cut funding from international projects like the several overseas wars we are involved in, and certain security units that are already fiscally expended.

The bill would add 16 million people to the Medicaid program and subsidize private health care insurance coverage for low- to middle-income families. It would require most Americans to be covered, cutting back on the cost of prescription drugs for the elderly on Medicare and pushing employers to offer affordable company insurance plans. The health care bill thus far is progressive in trying to bridge the economic gap between the lower, middle and upper classes of Americans.

But still it has managed to marginalize women and minorities thanks to conservative backlash. In order to pass the bill, concessions to tighten insurance coverage on abortion procedures were made. Women’s reproductive rights are not addressed, particularly in relation to inadequate pre- and postnatal care. A recent study carried out by Amnesty International has indicated that a leading cause for the high incident rate of maternal death is due to lack of insurance coverage for postpartum checkups and counseling. Statistically, black women make up 51 percent of uninsured women in the United States, and they are four times as likely to die of pregnancy related complications in comparison to Caucasian women.

The budget office estimates that the health care bill will cover an estimated 32 million uninsured Americans. But by the year 2019, it will still leave 23 million people uninsured, 7.6 million of whom will be illegal immigrants.

There are many, many health care issues that need to be sorted out in the coming months. I am optimistic about the efforts being made for health care reform, but remain a bit leery of how Americans will handle the future of progressive movements. It is only a matter of time before we as a country put social welfare above individual interest, and by then, our ever vocal and oppressive gun-toting, war-mongering, bigoted hummer-driving Americans will have lost the battle.

Thisanjali Gangoda is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].