The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the first health-care reform to pass Congress that will attempt to provide health insurance to all American citizens. It is not the first time that a health-care reform of this magnitude has been attempted. Previous attempts at health-care reform were not successful. The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was certain only at the 11th hour after much discussion and compromise between different factions within the government and private sector.
President Clinton had argued during his 1992 presidential campaign that health-care reform was needed. At the time, 37 million Americans were without health insurance. He also pointed to the fact that the United States was the only modernized democracy that did not provide universal health-care coverage for its citizens.
On September 22, 1993, President Clinton gave his kick-off speech to Congress on his proposed health-care reform. The reform included a mandate for employers to provide health insurance to all employees. These insurance plans would be offered through a regulated marketplace. The proposed reform was considered a great success by Democrats in Congress and in public opinion polls.
However, by spring 1994 the proposed reform has been labeled as “too large, too complex, too costly, and too much government (Pfiffner).” Public opinion, which was fundamental to this legislation, had begun to shift. Although there was public consensus that the United States health-care system needed to be overhauled, there was no consensus on what needed to be done to fix it.
The reform, ultimately, did not pass in Congress. Several factors were pointed to as causes for its failure. Along with the complexity and overly ambitious nature of the proposed reform, the division within the Democratic Party and the fact that Republican Party was
emboldened were major causes for its failure. Other factors include the large amount of money spent by special interest groups against the reform, the decline in public opinion, the Whitewater controversy and the resistance seen by American people towards large governmental programs in the 1990s.
Fast-forward to March 24, 2007. At an event for the Democratic presidential candidates in Las Vegas, the topic of health-care reform was brought up. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was instrumental in constructing the 1993 health-care bill, proved that she knew more about the multifaceted subject than anyone else in hall. John Edwards, appearing with his wife just days after publicizing that her cancer had returned, moved the audience with his fervor. When it was Obama’s turn, he spoke in ambiguous generalizations, simply saying “everybody on this stage is going to have a plan to move this health-care debate forward. I will be putting out a plan over the next couple months (Landmark 2010)”.
After the event, in a telephone call to his campaign manager, Obama told David Plouffe “I just wiffed...