The State of the Union: What Will Happen to Health Care Reform?
January 28, 2010 | Steph
Like many community health center advocates around the country, I waited patiently during last night’s State of the Union speech for President Obama to discuss health care reform. All week I had heard many rumors about what would or would not be said about health care reform during this important speech. It was nearly 30 minutes and 3,000 words before I heard: “health insurance reform.” A sense of relief rushed over me: it was clear that the President was not abandoning his pledge to reform health care.
Packaging health reform with a slightly different name – health insurance reform – President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to passing health care reform legislation. “Here’s what I ask Congress, though: Don’t walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. Let’s get it done,” said Obama. The President acknowledged that even as he was speaking, more individuals would go without health insurance and that Congress needed to take action to relieve the American people.
What President Obama did not say was how he planned to push health care reform through. Asking Congress to take another look at the legislation “as temperatures cool,” the President avoided any specific language that would outline his method or timeline for passing this important legislation. With approximately 45 million people living without health insurance the path to reform cannot be moved forward simply with bold rhetoric. While we may have a better sense in the coming days how the health care reform story will unfold, today it is still very unclear to many.
Despite the President’s vagueness on health care reform, one sentiment was very clear throughout last night’s address: bipartisanship has never been more important for the progression of our country. I hope that this renewed sentiment can serve as a motivation for Congress to come together, try to resolve their differences on both sides and take swift, responsible action to fix our health care system.