Over the past several months, I have had the privilege to have followed and reported on stories surrounding the issue of health care reform in this country. During this period of time, I have experienced moments of frustration, confusion and disappointment. This past Sunday, these feelings were finally substituted with happiness. I never thought surpassing the mere number of 216 would bring forth such a profound emotion, but with a majority vote of 219-212 we have seen our country advance before our very eyes.
After hearing the heart wrenching stories of those with inadequate health care coverage, and reading the writings of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) who called health care reform ‘the cause of his life,’ I came to the realization that reform was essential and could not wait any longer. Employment status, financial resources, and the type of sickness one has, should not be factors that decide whether an individual can have access to needed medical attention. Health care coverage is not a luxury that is meant to be enjoyed by the upper echelon of society; it is an undeniable human right.
Healthcare coverage is a fundamental right that needs to be protected and upheld by our government. Up until now, our democracy has failed to fulfill its obligation to the people of this great nation. Too many people have suffered, and too many lives which could have been saved have been lost. Government should exist to protect and preserve the lives of its people. With this landmark legislation, people from all walks of life, from every region of this country, will be able to attain quality and affordable health care.
The bill is not perfect; no bill produced on Capitol Hill in this political climate ever is. However, this bill is a positive step toward universal health care. At the core, this bill provides for the principles that will positively influence lives of Americans, and change the way the health care industry conducts business entirely.
Health insurance market exchanges will be established, which will allow for a greater amount of choices and drive down prices for the consumer. Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny individuals for pre-existing conditions. This concept of ending discrimination among patients is elementary and just; people, sick and healthy, should be relieved that this evil practice of denial has seen its last days of use. Finally, this bill will extend coverage to over 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured. This expansion to men, women and children who are in need, and are victims of exploitation by the current healthcare system, is a cause for celebration.
This journey toward reform has been tough and indeed a struggle of epic proportions. It has brought out the best and worst of our politicians and our citizenry. The passage of this reform by the House is utterly historic and the true impacts of this legislation cannot be expressed in words alone. However, the work on this matter is not done. The progressive movement and desire for social justice has yet to be completed. President Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate deserve praise. Yet, at the end of the day, this passage is not just a political victory for the White House or the Democratic Party, it is a victory for all Americans.