The phenomenon of health care reform has been characterized in many ways. A physician colleague compares it to working in the emergency room of a hospital.
Like an emergency room the will to do what is right holds the intensity, the frequency and the urgency of preserving life which makes the House’s tumultuous vote Sunday passage of the health care bill after more than 100 years of trying followed by President Barack Obama’s historic signing on Tuesday all the more triumphant.
Love it or hate it. Across the nation, reaction to the landmark health care legislation echoes the bitter division in Washington, drawing either praise or excoriation.
To be sure, the nation remains divided about the massive legislation.
After a century of striving, after a long and contentious battle, after a historic vote, health care reform is no longer an unmet promise, on Sunday Obama won because he bravely plunged ahead.
He defied critics on the right who wanted to kill health care reform. He defied skeptics on the left who urged him to champion a smaller overhaul.
In the end Mr. Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats demonstrated that they were up to the task. They stayed true to their party’s legacy and made history by enhancing access to health care, impacting a history of disparities and bringing health insurance to millions of Americans.
Democrats can console themselves with some other history:
Medicare itself was viewed as a government takeover, a nearly impossible undertaking, but was implemented smoothly, as was a Medicare prescription-drug benefit signed into law by President George W. Bush.
Maybe, advocates might argue, that shows the government can get some things right after all. Call it vast ambition or colossal risk, the fight isn’t over, the naysayers are at the gate. Like it or not the health care bill is the law of the land. As my colleague said to me ’There are not too many times that you can do something monumental.’ And this is the moment - savor it!
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