Obama signs controversial health care bill

By Dan Simons

After over a year of fierce debate between lawmakers, pundits and citizens, the House of Representatives adopted President Obama’s health care reform bill Sunday night.

The final vote of 219 yeas and 212 nays was calculated late Sunday to the sound of House Democrats cheering Obama’s campaign mantra, “Yes we can!”

The president signed the historic bill Tuesday, surrounded by members of Congress and other Americans who will benefit from the coming reform.

Before he signed the bill, Obama said, “All of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.”

The $940 billion bill constitutes the largest expansion of federal health care in more than four decades and is projected to extend insurance coverage to nearly 32 million Americans.

Among other changes, citizens will now be required to purchase health care, while larger employers will have to provide health insurance to their employees.

Insurance companies will also be barred from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions or gender.

Dr. Nancy Jansen, nurse practitioner and director of Graham Health Center at Oakland University, feels the coming changes will undoubtedly benefit students.

“One of the most important things in the bill are the changes in preventative care policies,” said Jansen. “Students won’t have to pay co-pays or deductibles on important things like vaccinations, including Gardasil and flu shots.”

She also praised the changes in how long children and young adults can be dependent on their parents’ insurance policies.

“Although a lot of OU students are still on their parents’ plans, other students who are in and out of school due to illness and other factors won’t be able to get kicked off their parents’ plans,” Jansen said.

“Health care is a right, not a privilege,” said Jansen. “Here at Graham, it’s about students and getting them the health care they deserve.”

Republicans have vowed to continue fighting the reform, with 13 states planning to sue the federal government, challenging the constitutionality of the bill’s authority to require citizens to purchase health insurance.

Michigan Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial nominee Mike Cox joined the effort to fight the bill, sending a letter to

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi telling her about the planned lawsuits.

According to Cox, the bill is an “unprecedented overreach by Congress and the President.”

Dr. Peter Trumbore, political science professor at OU, downplayed the threats coming from the GOP.

“I don’t see it as an actual option,” said Trumbore. “In Cox’s case, I feel he’s just being an opportunist. I don’t see this as a real threat to the bill or to the Democratic party.”

He added, “The bill is going to work its way through. It’s a done deal.”

President Obama will begin the process of selling the reforms to the public with a speech in Iowa City, Iowa this Thursday, according to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

“I don’t think it will be too hard to sell to the non-Tea Party public,” said Trumbore. “By the time people get to the polls in 2012, they will have only seen positive changes.”

While the bill is a clear victory for Obama and Democrats in Congress, the public supports the passage by a thin margin.

According to Gallup polling, 49 percent of American adults think the passing of the bill was a “good thing,” while 40 percent are opposed.

Oakland University junior and political science major Maxx Lesnick said that although the passage of the bill is a good step toward progress, there is still room for improvement.

“The bill is a bit too watered-down,” he said. “It’s a little too conservative for me, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Once the bill is sent to the Senate, it must stay there for 20 hours of debate.

If any part of the package is rejected or changed, it would have to go back to the House for another round of voting.