Author: Ted St. Hilaire
In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt urged Congress to pass a “second bill of rights.” Number six on the list was “the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.” So, began the drive to assure access to health care for every American. Though Congress failed to pass the second bill of rights, the Democratic Party has not given up the fight and they never should. Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton all sought ways to make health care available to all. Republicans have been unbending in their opposition and President Lyndon Johnson was able to accomplish a part of the goal through Medicare. When finally, President Obama and a Congress controlled by Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Republicans were furious and pledged to repeal it.
Now that the Republicans control the Presidency and the Congress, they have found that all their mocking and belittling of the ACA, which they cynically label as Obamacare, has not tarnished its popularity. The American public does not want their access to health care taken away. It has become politically unpopular to simply repeal the ACA and return to the pre-ACA circumstance. So now the Republicans are trying to replace the ACA with their own version which they say will keep the good parts of the ACA and eliminate the problematic parts. The House has passed their version; next the Senate will work on their version.
As troubling as this Congressional action is to Democrats, we can find some solace in the fact that Republicans seem to have conceded, for the most part, that progress toward universal health care for Americans has taken a new step forward; they now understand that Americans want and insist on having access to health care available to everyone. The battle is not won but progress has been made and sometime in the future health care will be a right for all, not just for those who can afford it.