Faceoff: Election 2012

The Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010, can easily be considered President Barack Obama’s most notable achievement since taking office. By increasing access to health care and by preventing unjust abuses on the part of private insurance companies, the president makes the bold choice to support the health and well-being of all Americans.

Through his reform, insurance companies cannot deny insurance due to pre-existing conditions or drop insurance when an individual becomes ill. They can no longer place lifetime caps or charge women more for health coverage than men. Copayments are eliminated for preventative care, allowing millions to now have free vaccinations, screenings and counseling.

For young people, the deal is even more appealing. On the job hunt after graduation, they no longer have to worry about walking the streets uninsured. They can choose to stay under their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26 years old. In order to increase access to these new reforms, small-business owners will be eligible for tax credits that will help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal these positive changes on “day one” of his presidency. While campaigning in Ohio, he said, “[Obama] wants to put bureaucrats between you and your doctor. He believes that government should tell you what kind of insurance you have to have.”

This is not a factual evaluation of Obama’s health care plan. The individual mandate, which forces the uninsured to obtain health insurance, only pertains to those who are unemployed or those who are not offered health insurance from their employers. The majority of Americans will remain on the same private health insurance plan they were on four years ago.

Obama does not want bureaucrats to make decisions about personal health; by preventing insurance companies from determining how much coverage an individual is given, doctors are able to give their patients the proper medical attention they need, no matter the cost of treatment.

The individual mandate, in fact, was a Republican idea in its inception. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., first mentioned the term in its 1989 brief titled “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans.” The president presented the mandate as a plan that would advocate personal responsibility – a phrase that Republicans continue to adopt as a distinguishing slogan of their party.

So why, then, is the individual mandate currently so unpopular among Republicans? Why has their slogan of “personal responsibility” now been coined the term of “government takeover”?

The answer is simple: Republicans in Congress will do anything to undermine this administration’s progress. They will go so far as to fervently deny an idea that was originally their own in exchange for a month of lackluster presidential approval ratings.

This very idea is blatantly reflected in their own presidential candidate. The Massachusetts Health Care Insurance Reform Law, signed by Romney as governor in 2006, mandated that nearly every resident of Massachusetts obtain a “state-government-regulated minimum level of health care insurance coverage.” Romney’s criticism of the Affordable Care Act, therefore, could not be more dismally ironic.

The president has made great strides pertaining to health care; he has backed American consumers and strengthened the nation’s health. He is the right choice on Nov. 6.

Click here to read the Republican viewpoint.

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