After more than a year of serving as head of state, President Obama is hardly new to the job. It may be hard to remember how he convinced voters that he was the right candidate for the job. But during his first State of the Union Address he reminded congressional leaders and the American people that he was here to restore the economy and rebuild the middle class. He addressed a number of issues including a financial stability plan, education and renewable energy legislation. The President centered his speech around healthcare reform. President Obama told the crowd that he had not taken on the healthcare system to get a legislative victory but rather to get a victory for middle class families.
The President told listeners that his approach would protect Americans from the worst practices of the insurance industry and would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health insurance plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care.
However, it appears many Americans are now questioning his plan. Not just conservatives but independents and democrats too. Senator Scott Brown’s election has many people convinced that voters don’t want President Obama healthcare bill to pass. The President is clearly not giving up on the bill. It was, after all, healthcare reform that first rallied the support of voters during the Presidential election. During the campaign healthcare topped the charts as one of the most influential issues and in many cases determined how people voted. When it came down to the final legs of the presidential race Senator McCain and President Obama held opposing views. President Obama promised more government control while Sen. McCain remained committed to a free market system. Voters ultimately backed President Obama, and his promise to change the healthcare system.
What many voters probably didn’t account for is the congressional support President Obama would need to pass such bills. Support he is fighting to receive on the health bill. On Nov. 7th, handing him a hard-fought victory, the House approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system by a vote of 220 to 215. The Senate passed an $871 billion bill on Dec. 24. But even as the House and Senate worked to reconcile their bills, the fate of the effort was put in jeopardy by an upset Republican victory in a special election to fill the Senate seat in Massachusetts held for decades by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Congressional leaders have had so many complications and opposing interpretations of Obama’s health plan it’s no wonder people are left confused. Even those who once supported healthcare reform are doubting whether the bill will improve the medical insurance system or make things worse. The president has taken some responsibility for the public confusion saying he has not been clear enough on explaining details of the bill. Other Democrats question the role that Congressional deal-cutting is playing in the political storms of 2010. Without the help of Republicans, Democratic leaders respond, that messy process is the only way to amass the votes needed to pass Mr. Obama’s ambitious agenda.
Time is not on the Democrats’ side. Congressional leaders have only months before midterm elections to finish a job-creation package, a health care overhaul, energy legislation, new financial industry regulations and the budget the Obama administration is unveiling. Many democrats are encouraging the President to change his focus from healthcare reform in order to earn tangible accomplishments.
President Obama has insisted that he will not walk away from uninsured Americans, and neither should other Congressional leaders.
Written By: Lenneice Drew
Lenneice A. Drew is an experienced journalist currently focused on healthcare reform . She is working to help others achieve better lives by finding affordable health insurance alternatives and reporting stories related to the healthcare industry. She lives in Miami, Florida.