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Washington Week: Focus on Economy, Health Care

  • Michael Bowman

After a week-long vacation, U.S. President Barack Obama will focus on proposals to strengthen the still-recovering American economy. The agenda includes implementation of his signature - and politically polarizing - initiative to reform the nation’s health care system.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as some call it, expands federal health care programs for the needy and encourages Americans of all income groups to purchase private health care insurance.

“If you do not have insurance, beginning on October 1st, private plans will actually compete for your business. You can comparison shop in an online marketplace, just like you would for cell phone plans or plane tickets. You may be eligible for new tax credits to help you afford the plan that’s right for you. And if you are in the up to half of all Americans who have been sick or have a preexisting condition, this law means that beginning January 1st, insurance companies have to cover you," he said.

Health-care spending accounts for one-seventh of U.S. economic activity, and is projected to increase to one-fifth in coming years. The cost has a direct bearing on America’s economic and fiscal wellbeing. Enacted in 2010, the Affordable Care Act aims to control costs and expand access to health care. The effort is a colossal failure, according to Republican lawmakers like Tim Griffin and Todd Young.

“Republicans will continue to do everything we can to protect all Americans from the president's top-down, one-size-fits-all, Washington-knows-best approach to health care that is driving up costs and hurting our economy," said Griffin.

Young added, “The sooner we can delay, dismantle, and repeal the president's health-care law, the sooner we can get people back to work and focus on expanding opportunity for everyone.”

The president accuses Republicans of putting partisanship ahead of Americans’ health-care needs. “A lot of Republicans seem to believe that if they can gum up the works and make this law fail, they will somehow be sticking it to me. But they would just be sticking it to you. Your health insurance is not something to play politics with. Our economy is not something to play politics with," he said.

The success or failure of Obamacare could shape the president’s legacy long after he leaves office.
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