Today marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, President Obama’s sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system that just three years ago sparked divisiveness and outrage throughout the country.
The White House has been pretty quiet on the “Obamacare” benchmark – unusually quiet considering that overhauling the health care system was supposed to be one of the president’s signature pieces of legislation.
The president even held a primetime address on the issue before Congress in the fall of 2009. As the Supreme Court prepares to take up the issue of health care early next week, it seems that this controversial, hot button issue is about to come front and center once again in the middle of a presidential election.
Obama’s health care plan has been divisive since it was first brought up for debate at the beginning of the Obama presidency. During the summer of 2009, several members of Congress returned to their districts to hold town hall meetings on the legislation only to find angry constituents shouting at them during the open forums. Longtime Senators Claire McCaskill and Arlen Specter were caught in shouting matches with the people they represented, often involving personal attacks with one person shouting “we don’t trust you” at McCaskill. Some believe that this outrage stemmed primarily from the Obama administration’s failure to properly sell health care reform to the American people.
Despite this level of public outrage, the Democratic-controlled House and Democratic controlled Senate were able to pass the health care bill, but the issue itself never died. As we entered the GOP presidential primary season almost every candidate has had something negative to say about “Obamacare.” The current frontrunner (and probable GOP nominee) Mitt Romney has openly criticized the president’s health care bill and has vowed to repeal it, if elected.
The only problem for Mitt Romney is that while he was Governor of Massachusetts he passed his own state-wide healthcare law that some have seen as the model for the president’s bill. Not only that, but the former governor of Massachusetts has repeatedly flip-flopped his position on the federal mandate, a key provision to the affordable care act.
Despite the White House being quiet on the issue, Twitter has seen the bill’s anniversary trending throughout the day. The #ILikeObamacare topic has seen a range of comments from those for, against and indifferent to the law — with tweets ranging from sincere support for the legislation to sarcastic anger against it.
All of this just days before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments against the law in a three day, six hour debate — the longest in decades. The sessions begin this Monday and close on Wednesday, focusing primarily on whether or not Congress has the constitutional authority to mandate people to purchase insurance.
The Affordable Health Care for America Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010. Surrounded by Democratic senators and representatives, President Obama remarked at the time, “I’m signing this reform bill into law on behalf of my mother, who argued with insurance companies even as she battled cancer in her final days.” The ceremony was a momentous occasion which brought him standing ovations from members of his party. Today, two years later, the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had to defend and duck questions regarding health care. After a member of the White House press corps asked Carney if health care had become a political liability Carney simply said, “no.”