Stiff resistance


President Barack Obama’s attempt to make healthcare affordable to ordinary Americans is running into trouble. Conservatives are putting up stiff resistance to his healthcare reform plan. Rising cost of healthcare for individuals — it is twice as expensive as healthcare systems in other western countries — has made it unaffordable for many Americans. Obama’s plan, which is currently being debated in the US Congress, aims to reform this system, besides expanding insurance coverage. It is estimated that around 46 million Americans do not have health insurance, with another 25 million said to have inadequate coverage. The proposed plan aims at expanding coverage to 97 per cent of the population, which will  cost the government some $900 billion.  Conservatives are up in arms over the plan. They are opposed to the spending of tax dollars on a government-run health insurance option. But their basic problem is that they do not want tax-payers to have to bear the burden of making healthcare accessible to less privileged Americans.

Besides the political conservatives that are opposed to big government in the US, there is an array of powerful interests, including pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors and insurance companies that are opposed to healthcare reform. They can be expected to lobby aggressively to ensure the defeat of the Bill. Healthcare reform has been attempted by every Democrat President since Harry Truman and all of them failed. Bill Clinton’s attempt triggered immense political and public opposition ultimately contributing to Republicans taking control of Congress in elections the following year. Will Obama’s bid to reform the system get derailed as well? Reforming the healthcare system was among his main election  promises. It was in fact the single most important issue that won him the presidency. This means that millions of Americans voted for him in the hope that he would make healthcare affordable. He cannot let them down now.

It is not just opposition to the content of the healthcare plan that is behind the current conservative campaign. It is Obama’s skin colour as well. America’s conservatives are yet to come to terms that a black man is now the President of the US. Hence, the vicious personal attacks. The hostility that Obama’s race and background aroused during his campaign has still not dissipated.

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