In the June 2010 issue of Health Affairs, Brown University political science professor James Morone writes an interesting article entitled “Presidents and Health Reform: From Franklin D. Roosevelt to Barack Obama.” It’s a great piece, and I highly recommend you read it. What I’m going to do, though, is take five quotes from the paper and expand on them with my own thoughts. If this is a slow news week, then that’s what you’ll get from me from Monday to Friday. Otherwise, it might spill into next week. Let’s get started….
“Democrats correctly view the Obama health care reform as a historic achievement. It ranks alongside the most important pieces of social policy legislation in recent American history, including the Social Security Act (1935) and the Civil Rights Act (1964).”
At first, I thought this statement a bit bold. After all, while passing the reform legislation is a “big #$@!@*% deal” it is only now starting to make some minor changes–and doesn’t go full-tilt until 2014. Does it have the potential to be as important as Social Security and civil rights? Absolutely. But can we really judge it as having reached that point just because it was able to clear so many Congressional hurdles? Ehhhh….
But then I got to thinking about how much of an impact this debate had on the country. People know about this legislation. It was all over the news. It led to protests where people came armed, and in one case lost a fingertip. By contrast, most laws get passed while the rest of the country goes about its business. What’s the difference? I think it’s pretty clear that the difference is in the scope of the health reform legislation by comparison to other laws that are passed. Health reform will affect everyone. That’s not always true with other laws. As a result, people got involved. Sure, many of them had no idea what the law would do, but they thought they did, and they had strong opinions. So, while the full implications of reform are years down the road, I think that this legislation has already had a far more profound impact on the American people than most other legislation. Go ahead and try to think of another law that was passed recently that has caused such an uproar both in favor and in opposition to its passage. Name one. Seriously. I’d be impressed if you could.