Obama’s promise for health care reform comes full circle

IOWA CITY, Iowa — President Barack Obama’s quest for enacting health care reform started in May 2007 when, as a presidential candidate, he first unveiled his plan for health care reform in Iowa City and promised to pass a universal health care plan in to law by the end of his first term in office. Obama’s journey took nearly three years, but he completed the circle and made good on part of his campaign promise when he signed a health care overhaul bill into law Tuesday.

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“After a year of debate and a century of trying, after so many of you shared your stories and your heartaches and your hopes, that promise was finally fulfilled,” Obama told more than 3,000 people packed into the University of Iowa Field House gymnasium, located just around the corner from where he initially made his promise nearly three years ago. “And today, health insurance reform is the law of the land.”

Even though the health care bill, having survived several months of political wrangling in Congress, has already passed, Obama was not leaving anything to chance or misinformation when he returned to Iowa City and pitched the benefits of the new law.

“Over the last year, there’s been a lot of misinformation spread about health care reform. There has been plenty of fear-mongering and overheated rhetoric,” Obama said. “And if you turn on the news, you’ll see that those same folks are still shouting about how the world will end because we passed this bill. This is not an exaggeration. Leaders of the Republican Party have actually been calling the passage of this bill ‘Armageddon.’”

Taking a dramatic cue from the word “Armageddon,” Obama took a moment to look around the gymnasium to see whether any of the walls had crumbled down or the end-of-the-world had indeed ensued, joking “I don’t see any cracks in the earth opening up. In fact the day of the signing was a pretty nice day,” he said. “And people still had the doctors they had before I signed the bill into law.”

During the first part of Obama’s pitch, he reassured the audience that critics of health care reform will now have to face the facts prescribed in the bill, as theory metamorphoses into reality and practice.

“But from this day forward, all of the cynics and the naysayers will have to finally confront the reality of what this reform is and what it isn’t,” he said. “They will have to finally acknowledge that this isn’t a government takeover of our health care system. They will see that if Americans like their doctor, they will keep their doctor. If people like their plan, they will keep their plan. No one will be able to take that away from you.”

In his campaign speech at the University of Iowa Hospitals in 2007, Obama vowed to break up the stranglehold of the drug and insurance companies, which he argued served as a major obstacle standing in the way of achieving a comprehensive solution to the health care crisis.

“And I believe that no amount of industry profiteering and lobbying should stand in the way of that right any longer,” Obama said at the time. “It’s time to let the drug and insurance industries know that while they’ll get a seat at the table, they don’t get to buy every chair.”

Three years later, after the drug and insurance industries had pumped millions of dollars into trying to stop the health care bill from passing, Obama admitted that the new law will not solve every health care problem we have now. Moreover, he admitted that while these powerful industries will have a seat at the table, they will have to adhere to a new set of guidelines and oversight.

“But it (health care reform) finally tells the insurance companies that in exchange for all the new customers they’re about to get, they have to start playing by a new set of rules that treat everyone fairly and honestly,” Obama said. “The days of the insurance industry running roughshod over the American people are over.”

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