In an interview with ABC news on Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner uttered something surprising. When asked if his party would continue working to repeal health care reform. His response was simple: “It’s pretty clear that the president was reelected. Obamacare is the law of the land.”
Before 11:14 p.m. ET Tuesday night, the fate of President Obama’s historic health care reform legislation still hung in the balance. The Supreme Court may have granted the Affordable Care Act a reprieve in July when it ruled in favor of the constitutionality of the health insurance mandate, but its survival remained precarious.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act if elected president—even though it was virtually identical to the health care reform legislation he implemented while governor of Massachusetts. American Enterprise Institute fellow and former health care executive J.D. Kleinke recently wrote an op-ed for the The New York Times illustrating how Obamacare is based on conservative principles of personal responsibility and the power of market forces. He even went as far as to call it “Romneycare across state lines.”
Thankfully, Mitt Romney didn't get the chance to kill the president’s signature piece of legislation. Shortly after the media reported President Obama’s victory, Ezra Klein of the Washington Post tweeted out that the uninsured had just won the election—and he’s absolutely right. Many Americans still don’t realize that Obamacare’s major reforms will not be implemented until 2014. Meanwhile, 48.6 million—or roughly one in six Americans--remain without health insurance according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Fortunately, they now have hope for a future that includes access to health care without the threat of financial ruin.
President Obama’s re-election ensures that thousands of young adults (the largest segment of the uninsured population) will be allowed to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans. Nearly 30% of young adults aged 19-25 are uninsured, so this cohort needs all the help it can get. Health insurers will also not be allowed to revert to their old practices of denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
If nothing else, Tuesday’s election restored my faith in the American people. This election was not about the choice between two leaders; it was a referendum on how the country should evolve.
Meanwhile, let’s hope that Speaker Boehner’s conciliatory tone continues and that the GOP will respect Obamacare as the rule of law. Perhaps one day Romney will even have the courage to publicly take pride in bringing near-universal coverage to the people of Massachusetts when he set a model for the country that was adopted by the president. Come on Mitt, it’s so much more fun being on the right side of history.