Republicans will continue to bash it. Democrats may even lose the U.S. Senate over it. But, make no mistake, the health care debate is over and Republicans lost.
I’m not talking about the program called Obamacare. I’m talking about the massive changes in how we deliver heath care and who gets it. We will never go back to a time when people are denied health care because of pre-existing conditions. We will never go back to a time when families go bankrupt trying to pay for accidents or illness. We will never again have 15% of our population limited in their access to health care. And that will be Barack Obama’s legacy.
In the world of small ball politics, the focus is on the details of Obamacare, particularly the requirement to purchase insurance. There are problems with this mandate or that one and the GOP will continue to bash the program as unworkable and a failure. But what they won’t do anymore is attack the broader goals of health care reform. On the contrary, they are rallying around their own version of reform that embraces the very principles they opposed for so long.
In the big picture world of politics, Democrats have won. From the failed effort of Hillary Clinton in the 1990s to the election of Barack Obama fifteen years later, the party of FDR promoted the idea that health care should not be reserved only for those who could afford it. Today, that premise is accepted by everyone but the dwindling Tea Party, most of whom will benefit from it anyway.
Sure, health care reform will continue to play a role in our political landscape for the foreseeable future. But the fights will be over the details, not the concepts.
Twenty years from now, our children and grandchildren won’t believe that this country allowed people to go bankrupt because they got sick or injured. They won’t hear about the delays in the employer mandates. They won’t remember the millions of dollars in ads telling us that Obamacare doesn’t work. And they won’t even know that Richard Burr and Tom Coburn offered an alternative to the current program, even if it passes. Instead, they will be taught in school that Barack Obama made health care accessible to everyone.