President Barack Obama signed a historic $938 billion health care overhaul Tuesday that guarantees coverage for 32 million uninsured Americans. His decision marks the biggest shift in U.S. domestic policy since the 1960s and caps a divisive, yearlong debate that could define elections come November.
“Today after almost a century of trial, today after over a year of debate, today after all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America. Today,” Obama said. “All of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.”
But that reality is still in question for some. Junior Grace Valle doesn’t understand what is going on with the health care bill but knows people are making a big fuss about it.
“The details haven’t managed to trickle down to the people who will actually be affected by it,” Valle said. “Obama is saying a lot of nice words, but I feel like we’re missing a flow chart on how this affects people at the bottom, not on Capitol Hill, like doctors for instance, how does this affect the medical field if we shove 32 million people into an already crammed system or will it even affect the medical?”
Another student, sophomore Andrew Kincheloe said he has a good grasp on the topic because his dad has been a doctor for 20 years.
“Obama doesn’t understand what’s going on. You can’t lower debt by increasing health care,” Kincheloe said. “Most of the people who will be covered now aren’t even paying taxes, so it is unfair to the upper and middle class hardworking Americans. He said it’s good for them, but it doesn’t make sense. It’s going to kill us all in the end.”
Other students say there are parts of the bill that every college student can benefit from.
“The one thing I did like about it is that we can be on our parent’s health care insurance until were 26 because right out of college, very few people are actually going to be able to get health coverage as good as our parents,” junior John Zwanziger said.
This part of the bill will take place within the next six months. Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage for a pre-existing condition and won’t be able to drop coverage if an illness arises.
The rest of the changes are expected to roll out over the next couple of years. The full bill will be in effect by 2014.
“I think it’s probably good,” sophomore Hanna Greilem said. “People who couldn’t normally get health care can now get some attention that they might need.”
Despite the cost, sophomore Jen Davis said the bill will benefit the country.
“I understand that it’s really expensive and may increase taxes, but every American deserves the right to health care and deserves to be healthy,” Davis said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
Student loan provision
Along with the bill, a late provision was added that would majorly revamp the federal student loan programs, which will essentially eliminate fees paid to banks.
The government will instead expand upon a direct lending program, that they say will save taxpayers $61 billion over a decade, and use $36 billion of that money to increase Pell grants to low-income undergraduates.
Private banks lobbied against the bill, which will rid a source of revenue for them, to no avail.
Patrick Stumpf, Michael Ewen, Zach Pagano and Kelly Trussell contributed to this report.
Ashley Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.