News / USA

Controversial US Health Care Reforms Reach a Milestone

Darryl Clairborn tries to use the web sight to sign up for health insurance at the business office of Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, March 31, 2014.
Darryl Clairborn tries to use the web sight to sign up for health insurance at the business office of Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, March 31, 2014.
VOA News
More than six million Americans are now enrolled in new health insurance coverage in the United States, but the law mandating health care reforms throughout the country remains as controversial as when Congress approved it four years ago.

Most U.S. workers receive health insurance at their workplace that is largely paid for by their employers. But those who do not have such coverage faced a Monday deadline to start buying insurance or pay a financial penalty that could equal 1 percent of their salaries.

Congress approved the massive overhaul of U.S. health care in 2010. It remains as President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement, although many of the reforms are just now taking shape.

But only his Democratic colleagues voted for it and most Republicans remain adamantly opposed to it. They especially object to the requirement to buy insurance, which they consider an infringement on personal liberties.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has voted more than 50 times to repeal it, measures ignored and left to die in the Democratic-run Senate.

The new health insurance was first offered in October, but the government's Internet enrollment site was ill-equipped to handle would-be customers, leading to massive delays and widespread complaints. Most of the technical glitches appear to have been fixed and enrollment soared as Monday's deadline approached.

But even on the last day, people using the website were greeted with a message that it was down for maintenance.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid lauded the law's goal of providing more people with insurance, often with government subsidies.

"The rollout was really bad," he said. "But let's look at what's happened since that. We have millions of people who have signed up. Millions!"

The law is popularly known in the U.S. as Obamacare, and surveys show voters more opposed to it than not. But many people like some of the reforms, such as a ban on private insurers denying coverage to someone with a pre-existing condition requiring costly medical care.

The law is aimed at greatly increasing the number of people covered by health insurance in the country, and the government estimates about 25 million more people could have insurance by 2016. That would leave about 9 percent without insurance, partly because some states have refused to expand coverage for the poor.

The more than six million people enrolled in new insurance plans has come close to the original estimate that seven million people would sign up by Monday's deadline.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the law constitutional in 2012. But numerous challenges to specific provisions of the law are being heard throughout the U.S. court system, and the Supreme Court heard one such case last week. It expects to rule by June whether employers with religious objections to the law are required to provide contraceptives for their female workers.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Not Again from: Canada
April 07, 2014 8:34 PM
The Affordable Care Act, is the right humanitarian action to support, all should be behind it, to help people get health care coverage. The results are already showing that, notwithstanding the initial software launching problems, it is rapidly gaining acceptance. As any other human designed/ fielded system, it will need to be made more effective and more efficient over time. No such complex system will ever be perfect from day one, nor will it ever achieve perfection. In Canada, for over 50 yrs the system has been updated, incrementally changed, made better,and in some cases now even private sector organizations contribute to bettering its services, the system is continuously evolving, it is a work in progress. There are very few Canadians, other than the very rich, that would give it up for a full private sector system. In other countries around the World, that have a public sector system, that is funded by all the taxpayers, it works well; surveys in those countries also show the people would not give it up for full private system, they too are not perfect. The Affordable Care Act must have clear pathways for it to be easily improved, as better ways/processes are demonstrated. Pres. Obama took the hardest and most riskiest steps, which were to get the system into the law, and get the system stood up in its first version. So far no one, in the history of the US had the courage or the willigness to take the risk. Much the same occurred in Canada, the pioneers of the Canadian system faced great numbers of nay sayers, with many of the same quasi negative contrarian arguments. The one thing, that is critical, is that the system must be easily modifyable and made better, so that it does not lock in components that over time can be made better, especially more affordable, to the users. Flexibility and ease of upgrade/update are key to making it more rapidly acceptable by even the greatest critics.

by: Dr. Quentin F. Bottomburp from: USA
April 01, 2014 11:13 AM
In May last year, Louisiana State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, the chair of the state Democratic Party, said that the reason Americans are upset over Obamacare is because President Obama is black. Liberals are also taking their lead from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who told the annual NAACP convention in Orlando, Fla. last summer that opponents of Obamacare share the same sentiment as opponents of civil rights in the 1960′s.

During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing in October last year, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. compared Obamacare opposition to the 1950′s Southern Manifesto which was in opposition to black integration. Ironically, 97 of the 99 politicians who signed the 1956 manifesto were Democrats.In November, Forbes’ Peter Ubel wrote a piece which asserted that it was “occasionally” racist to criticize Obamacare because the law helps blacks and Hispanics more than any other segment of the population. In January, the Huffington Post also published an article which claimed that opposition to Obamacare was “rooted in bigotry”.

The idea was taken to even greater depths of deliriousness back in December when MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry (who subsequently cracked a crass racist joke about Mitt Romney having a black baby in his family) equated ‘Obamacare’ with the N-word, suggesting that merely using the term itself (which Obama has on many occasions) is an act of racism.

By the same token, Hillarycare was anti-women and Reaganomics was anti-white. According to all these people and their enthusiastic cheerleaders, opposition to Obamacare has nothing to do with the fact the law creates vast new bureaucracies, at least 20 new taxes, places onerous demands on small businesses to cover employees’ health costs, raises prices for the average family and turns doctors into government spies – it’s all because of racism!

by: Dan Owens from: Tampa
March 31, 2014 4:22 PM
Whether or not you agree with it, doesn’t change the deadline. There are options out there, you just have to dig deep for them. It definitely helps to do your research. I found a lot of alternatives when I really started digging, including a great resource library through Health Plan Services that includes reform information, industry surveys and case studies. You can find it at:
In Response

by: Delusions from: USA
March 31, 2014 10:41 PM
Dan, you are DELUSIONAL, our country is now FASCIST and Obamacare was written by OFFSHORE BANKS, FACT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs