Obama's health care overhaul: how historic? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Obama's health care overhaul: how historic?


IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Social security, the Medicare program, and now, President Barack Obama's health care reform bill. Many lawmakers are calling Sunday night's vote on the monumental bill "historic." But will it end up being remembered as a landmark in U.S. policy creation, and why?

The bill has been hailed as a huge success for many Americans, a complete failure for others. But when it comes to how it will stack up against other landmark U.S. policy changes, "the jury's still out as to how this will be received, even in the medium-term."

That's Professor Steve Owen, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Kirkwood Community College. He says the bill is history in the making, but it may not be quite as big of a deal as "The New Deal."

"It's a very significant change, but it does build on earlier reforms, rather than completely gut and restructure the system," said Owen.

To the average citizen, the significance of the reform can be measured in different ways.

"In terms of Congress' ability to pass such a large bill, I think it's definitely historic," said UI Junior Drew Mickle.

"It is a big deal, because the government's involved quite a bit more than in the past, but I'm not really sure. I think history will have to take care of that piece," said Marion Patterson of Cedar Rapids.

But Professor Colin Gordon, chair of the University of Iowa Department of History, says many attempts at reform have been remembered more for their failures, than successes.

"I think there are some who feel that this doesn't go nearly far enough, and what you're effectively doing is moving furniture into a burning house," said Gordon, author of a book on the politics of health care in the U.S. "You're still relying on that employment-based system, which is falling apart."

He calls the bill "a significant policy moment, but far short of what I'd call universal healthcare."

And, with so much opposition from both the public and lawmakers, it's possible that the reform may go down in history as a turning point for the Democratic party.

"Potentially, the president's party may possibly suffer somewhat as a result of that," Owen explained.

There are still hurdles ahead for the bill. Senate Republicans have promised to slow it down any way they can, after it receives ink from the president's pen.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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