Health Care on the Road
President explains new bill in Iowa Town Hall
After signing historic health care legislation into law this week, President Barack Obama hit the road. He took his success back to where it all started, a town hall in Iowa City, Iowa. This is where, as a candidate three years ago, he promised to pass health care legislation during his first term.
"On Tuesday, after a year of debate, a century of trying, after so many of you shared your stories…health insurance reform is the law of the land all across America," the President said Thursday.
"Yes we did! Yes we did! Yes we did!" shouted a crowd of about 3,000 people in the University of Iowa Field House. They came to hear President Obama explain the new Affordable Healthcare for America Act.
The plan will take about four years to implement fully, he said. Several important changes will begin this year, however: the government will begin providing tax credits for small businesses to provide insurance for their employees; insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to people, including children, with preexisting conditions; and parents will be able to keep kids on the family plan until age 26.
Long term, the bill will provide coverage to 32 million uninsured people.
Reactions to the bill are mixed. At least 50 protestors peacefully demonstrated their disapproval outside Thursday's event. Larry Aden, a farmer and engineer in Jolly, Iowa, held a sign declaring, 'It's not a right unless you're born with it.'
"[The health care bill] is a total farce," he told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. "No way, shape, or form will it work. Americans will not stand for socialized medicine." He ended by pledging to work to replace every member of Congress who voted for the bill.
Military veteran Amy Hulsizer of Dubuque, Iowa, said she believed the bill would take away her ability to choose her medical care.
"I don't like it," she said. "I don't think it's fair."
Inside, the hall, however, the only unhappy people were those who wanted the bill to do more.
"It is better than what we had before, but not as good as I wanted," said Marjorie Jones, 77, of Iowa City. "I was hoping for a public option."
Mary Zoeckler, a retired reporter of Iowa City, Iowa, also agreed that this was a good start.
"This can only be a positive affect for the Democrats in the upcoming election," she said.
Iowa Senator Robert Dvorsky agreed.
"I know that this will only help the Democrats," he said.
Republicans strongly disagree with that statement and have already made "repeal and replace" the theme of this year's mid-term election campaigns.
President Obama acknowledged that the current plan isn't perfect, noting that changes are currently under debate in Congress. He reminded the audience of a story he told at the Iowa City campaign event three years ago.
"I told the story of when Lyndon Johnson stood with Harry Truman and signed Medicare into law," he said. "That wasn't perfect either. I'm sure there was somebody who was dissatisfied with it at the time. And as he looked out over the crowd in Independence, Missouri, that day, [Johnson] said, 'History shapes men, but it is a necessary faith of leadership that men can shape history.' What this generation has proven today is that we still have the power to shape history."
For more about the health care bill, see Kid Reporter Danielle Azzolina's interview with Marcelas Owens, an 11-year-old who stood next to President Obama as the bill was signed into law. Also, check out her blog post about the interview.
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