Health: President Obama’s Memoir and ‘Obamacare’

The Story:

Former US President Barack Obama, whose still-controversial ‘Obamacare’ system seems to have survived the Presidency of a successor who had pledged to dismantle it, has published a new memoir of his administration, A Promised Land. He has a good deal to say that sheds light on how that system came to be.

Significance:

The President Elect, Joseph Biden, who was Obama’s Vice President, plans to repair what he sees as the erosions in Obamacare during the Trump period, and to add to it a feature that was left out during the legislative and public debates of 2009-2010, known as the “public option,” a government agency in the health insurance business that would compete with the private health insurers and help keep premiums low.

Obama reminds us in his new book that in early 2010 he needed every single Democrat in the Senate to vote “yes” on the emerging bill, given the utter absence of likely Republican crossovers. This, in turn, meant that he had to tailor the final draft to the most skeptical of the Democrats, the centrists, especially Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Max Baucus (Mon.). For the sake of their votes, Obama says, he sacrificed the public option.

In Pill Form:

Although the former President clearly didn’t mean for his discussion to deter further efforts in the expansion of the public/government role in health care, his discussion may remind many readers of the pressures inherent in US political culture working against a “public option,” pressures that are not going to disappear simply because the names of some of the Senators have changed.

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