President Obama's Ohio Visit Proves Pivotal in House Passage of the Health Care Bill
After a week of furious debate and dramatic twists and turns, the United States House of Representatives passed what is being hailed as the boldest legislation covering health care and medical insurance in decades.
Trip to Ohio May Have Been Turning Point
Many are pointing to President Obama's recent trip to Ohio as the turning point that galvanized support for this bill. In Strongsville, Ohio, Obama staged a high-profile event right in the heart of a region with numerous swing-vote Democrats. However, what may have proven to be the turning point may have been the tone of the speech, which departed from the political bickering that had been dominating Washington, and instead touched on the stories of people in need of affordable health insurance.
President Obama called upon Congress to put the wellbeing of the American people ahead of their own political wellbeing. He was quoted in the New York Times as saying, "The American people want to know if it's still possible for Washington to look out for their interests and their future. They're waiting for us to act. They're waiting for us to lead." He added, "They want us to look and see what's the best thing for America and then do what's right."
Personalizing the Health Care Issue
Similar to earlier events in Missouri and Pennsylvania, President Obama shared stories of real people struggling without medical coverage or low-cost health insurance. A particular story that captivated the audience was that of a self-employed cleaning woman who dropped her medical coverage because she no longer had access to affordable health insurance. A former cancer patient who had been cancer-free for 11 years, she dropped her medical coverage after facing a 40 percent increase in her health insurance rate. Shortly after, she was hospitalized for leukemia and is now unsure how to pay for the diagnostic tests and expensive treatments she needs.
President Obama also used the opportunity to publicly appeal to congressional health care bill holdouts from the region, and spent much of the week detailing lawmakers one-on-one to support his top legislative priority. The stop in Ohio was followed by additional rhetoric and last-minute compromises to cater to additional holdouts. One such compromise included efforts to reassure that the bill would prohibit federal money to be used to fund abortions, a key sticking point for many lawmakers including some Pro-Life Democrats on the fence over the controversy.
After intense and emotional appeals and much parliamentary wrangling, the bill finally passed in the House. However, there is little doubt that the strategy in Ohio, which personified the issue, played an important role and garnering the needed support. Although there are still many obstacles for President Obama to navigate and the impact, if any, on health insurance cost may not be seen for awhile, the health care overhaul law is sure to have a significant impact on medical health insurance.