On Sunday, March 21, the U.S. House of Representatives passed President Obama’s health care reform bill on a party line vote, after almost a year of fierce debate and criticism over the nature and cost of the legislation, according to Politico.
President Obama signed the bill into law the following Tuesday. The Senate also approved a package of fixes to the bill, which was ultimately sent back to the House following a parliamentarian ruling, and quickly passed.
Democrats quickly began praising the bill while Republicans jumped to criticize it.
Republican Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana explained to Sean Hannity his commitment to overturning the health care bill.
“I’m hopeful that we’re going to turn this thing back,” Pence said. “Scrap the bill and be able to start over with legislation that will focus on reducing the cost of health insurance rather than growing the size of government.”
President Obama countered what is being called “repeal and replace” while speaking in Iowa.
“My attitude is: Go for it,” Obama said. “If these congressmen in Washington want to come here in Iowa and tell small-business owners that they plan to take away their tax credits and essentially raise their taxes, be my guest.”
Following the bill’s passage, many members of Congress have received threats of death or violence.
According to Politico, the brother of Virginia Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello reported his propane gas line severed after his home address was posted on a local Tea Party activist’s Web site.
The Guardian also reported that prominent African-American Rep. James Clyburn received a fax with a picture of a noose, while other Democratic lawmakers have reported vandalism at their local offices.
The Washington Post reported that the bill will cost some $940 billion and will cut the federal deficit by $138 billion over 10 years, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
According to CBS News, the legislation will ultimately end up providing close to 32 million uninsured people with health care through local insurance exchanges, increases to Medicaid funding, and tax credits to individuals, families and small businesses.
The bill also includes tax hikes for high-income earners, costly health plans, cuts to Medicare, and a mandate that everyone purchase insurance or pay a fine that will be adjusted based on the cost of living.
The bill will affect many Americans, including college students, whose health care may shift upon graduation.
Mary Washington students possess a wide variety of opinions concerning the new legislation and its effects.
Many students expressed support for the bill.
“It’s a good thing,” senior Maryanne Mackey said. “I’m especially excited that I don’t have to worry about being kicked off my parents’ plan until I’m 26. It’s pretty impressive considering different presidents have been trying to fix health care for decades.”
“Thank God for the ‘reform’ part,” senior Jackie Horn said. “My close friend was kicked off her parents’ insurance because she turned 25, now she can never get insurance again because her emotional issues as a teenager count as a pre-existing condition.”
“I think it’s about time we started moving towards what is visibly working in other countries,” freshman Marina Freckman said. “I am personally very excited about the passing of the health care bill.”
Senior Jon Shields, president of UMW Young Democrats, was confident of student support.
“Most students are thrilled to see Obama deliver on what he promised,” Shields said. “Our generation has the most at stake when it comes to fixing a failed sector of our economy.”
Other students said they supported the bill, but expressed some misgivings.
“I am glad that the legislation passed, but disappointed that it wasn’t a bipartisan effort,” sophomore James Sennett said. “I think that to really have effective change it has to come from both sides.”
“I’m extremely excited that the bill passed,” junior Ian Huff said. “I’m happy with the changes it will bring, but I do think the bill is too watered down and we need to continue to push for a public option.”
Meanwhile, some students conveyed their skepticism about the bill.
“I don’t trust any bill whose deciding votes were obtained at the last minute,” junior Jillian Wennberg said.
“I’m a Libertarian,” senior Rachel Nash said. “So I’d really rather the government just leave me the hell alone. If people want health insurance, they need to get a job that provides health insurance.”
“I think the long term effects will be more detrimental than people realize,” senior Ashley Davis said. “If it’s so great, why are Obama, his family and congress exempt?”
Senior Erica Gouse, chair of the UMW College Republicans, was highly skeptical of the new legislation.
“The health care bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Obama into law is so costly that it is ironically not even worth the 2,800 pages it is written on,” Gouse said. “America will be forced to cut jobs in order to cope with their new expenses.”