Health care was one of the centerpieces of President Obama’s 2008 campaign, and with the backing of a Democrat-dominated Congress, his landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 was signed into law after a hard-fought battle with Republican legislators. The Act introduced comprehensive reforms on national health care legislations and will eventually expand coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans.
The Obama-Biden Plan
On health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes -- government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe both of these extremes are wrong, and that’s why they’ve proposed a plan that strengthens employer coverage, makes insurance companies accountable and ensures patient choice of doctor and care without government interference.
The Obama-Biden plan provides affordable, accessible health care for all Americans, builds on the existing health care system, and uses existing providers, doctors, and plans. Under the Obama-Biden plan, patients will be able to make health care decisions with their doctors, instead of being blocked by insurance company bureaucrats.
Under the plan, if you like your current health insurance, nothing changes, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year. If you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of new, affordable health insurance options.
The Office of the President Elect, Change.gov; The Obama-Biden Transition Team
“Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied –- health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America. Today.March 23, 2010: Remarks by President Obama at the signing of the Health Insurance Reform Bill
It is fitting that Congress passed this historic legislation this week. For as we mark the turning of spring, we also mark a new season in America. In a few moments, when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.
And while the Senate still has a last round of improvements to make on this historic legislation -- and these are improvements I’m confident they will make swiftly - the bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for, and marched for, and hungered to see.
It will take four years to implement fully many of these reforms, because we need to implement them responsibly. We need to get this right. But a host of desperately needed reforms will take effect right away.
This year, we’ll start offering tax credits to about 4 million small businessmen and women to help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees. That happens this year.
This year, tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions, the parents of children who have a preexisting condition, will finally be able to purchase the coverage they need. That happens this year.
This year, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people’s coverage when they get sick. They won’t be able to place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive.
This year, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care. And this year, young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ policies until they’re 26 years old. That happens this year.
And this year, seniors who fall in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole will start getting some help. They’ll receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions, and that will, over time, fill in the doughnut hole. And I want seniors to know, despite what some have said, these reforms will not cut your guaranteed benefits. In fact, under this law, Americans on Medicare will receive free preventive care without co-payments or deductibles. That begins this year.
Once this reform is implemented, health insurance exchanges will be created, a competitive marketplace where uninsured people and small businesses will finally be able to purchase affordable, quality insurance. They will be able to be part of a big pool and get the same good deal that members of Congress get. That’s what’s going to happen under this reform.
And when this exchange is up and running, millions of people will get tax breaks to help them afford coverage, which represents the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history. That's what this reform is about.
This legislation will also lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades. It is paid for. It is fiscally responsible. And it will help lift a decades-long drag on our economy. That's part of what all of you together worked on and made happen.
That our generation is able to succeed in passing this reform is a testament to the persistence –- and the character -– of the American people, who championed this cause; who mobilized; who organized; who believed that people who love this country can change it.
It’s also a testament to the historic leadership -– and uncommon courage –- of the men and women of the United States Congress, who’ve taken their lumps during this difficult debate.”