By C.N. Staff Writer
Year 2015 marks the 5th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ‘Obamacare’ being signed into law. March 23rd marked the fifth anniversary and on March 25th President Obama celebrated the legislative anniversary with a ceremony at the White House. “The Affordable Care Act has been the subject of more scrutiny, more rumor, more attempts to dismantle and undermine it than just about any law in recent history,” Obama said in a statement. “But five years later, it is succeeding— in fact, it’s working better than even many of its supporters expected.”
The ACA can be viewed as one of Obama’s key legislative victories and key tenant of his legacy in office. During the period where he attempted to get the act pushed through Congress there was national outrage at the proposed legislation. A series of town halls against the proposed legislation were put on by Congressional and Senate leaders, many of them Republican Tea Party Members. These leaders made many claims about the constitutionality of the then-proposed law and attempted, through the town halls, to invoke fear among Americans who were uncertain about the legislation.
Much of the ACA opponent’s concerns centered around big themes, which included concern about the insurance premium benefits. There was speculation that the benefits would not be as attractive as they were originally advertised. In order for ACA insurance programs to reduce premiums, it requires the participation of all healthy young Americans. Another major problem the Act’s opponents feared was that it would impose price controls on the medical system in order to reduce costs. The thought was that the act would seek to control the compensation of medical personnel, medical procedures, and hospital costs. The third major thought problem was the negative impact on jobs and the economy. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees would have a disincentive to expand beyond 49 employees, because they would incur health insurance cost on 50 people once they hire their 50th employee.
During the ceremony, Obama touted many of his opponents with the success of the Act along with rhetoric critics made. “We have been promised a lot of things in these past five years that didn’t turn out to be the case,” he said. “Death panels, doom, a serious alternative from Republicans in Congress.” The ACA has extended the Medicare trust fund by 13 years and saved seniors $15 billion, he added. “This law is also saving lives, lives that touch all of us,” Obama said. “It’s working despite countless attempts to repeal and defame this law.”
Heritage Action, the activist wing of the Heritage Foundation held anti-Obamacare town halls in nine cities across the country, to “make sure lawmakers understand the American people expect them to defund Obamacare in its entirety.” However, that was not the case. The bill went into effect on March 23, 2010 and Obama said during the ceremony that the country is better off because of it.
“It’s not the job killer that critics have warned about for five years,” Mr. Obama said. “When this law was passed, our businesses began the longest streak of private sector job growth on record. Sixty straight months. Five straight years. Twelve million new jobs.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who recently announced his candidacy for the 2016 Presidential election has been an outspoken advocate to defund the bill, stating that if elected he would ensure that it is defunded. However, after announcing his candidacy he and his family enrolled in the District of Columbia Health Link Small Business Market. His wife took leave from her job at Goldman Sachs to help him on his campaign bid and could no longer carry him on her health coverage. Other senate leaders like Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are co-advocates with Cruz behind the “defund” strategy.
President Obama said that health care premiums would be $1,800 higher now if price growth in that industry had continued at the rate of five years ago. He said that cuts in Medicare drug costs had saved seniors $15 billion.
Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act amendment, the ACA represents the most significant regulatory overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
The Department of Health and Human Services reports that since the law was enacted, the U.S. has seen the greatest change in the numbers of the uninsured in 40 years. “Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act almost five years ago, about 16.4 million uninsured people have gained health coverage – the largest reduction in the uninsured in four decades,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “Because of the Affordable Care Act young adults are able to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, states can expand their Medicaid programs, and tax credits are available to millions of Americans in all 50 states, making health care coverage more affordable and accessible. When it comes to the key metrics of affordability, access, and quality, the evidence shows that the Affordable Care Act is working, and families, businesses and taxpayers are better off as a result.”