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Viewpoint: Barack the vote for health care

BY GIANCARLO BUONOMO

Published November 4, 2012

I'd like to begin this viewpoint with a personal anecdote about a time when I, or someone I know, was denied access to health care. But, I don’t have one, and therein lies the point. As a student, like many others at the University, for whom health care access has never been an issue, President Barack Obama’s health care bill wouldn’t seem to directly relate to me. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

After several unsuccessful attempts at health care reform, most notably President Bill Clinton’s in 1993, Congress finally passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare," in 2010. The bill essentially overhauls the process by which Americans purchase and maintain health insurance. The major reforms of the Affordable Care Act include prohibiting insurance companies from dropping their clients when they get sick, banning dollar caps on yearly and lifetime coverage and allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until they’re 26 years old.

The last provision is of particular importance to students like me. Under the old health care regulations, I may not have been covered for the duration of my time at the University. Many Americans in undergraduate and graduate programs had to worry about the threat of illness while trying to earn a degree. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, these worries no longer affect us.

Beyond its impacts on me, I’m proud to support the President that ended discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. For those Americans who may need health care coverage the most, insurance companies mistreated those with long-term illness and pre-existing conditions. Obama understands that affordable health care is a basic human necessity and took care to ensure that all Americans would be covered.

The opposition has been elitist and unrealistic with its treatment of health care reform. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney stated in 2012, “Obamacare must be repealed — in its entirety.” He moved back from his remarks this September, when he stated, “I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform.”

I view this as a lose-lose for Romney. His first comment indicates that he does not understand how much Obamacare helps Americans who struggle to get health care. His second comment indicates that he understands that Americans are beginning to realize the value of the ACA, and that he must, as he has done time and time again, change his opinion.

How can we trust Romney with our health care when we don't know his real opinion? The other side has continually put politics ahead of the interests of the nation. They’re unable to compromise on what may be the greatest piece of progressive legislation since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, despite the Supreme Court's June ruling of the constitutionality of the ACA's individual mandate, a vital piece of the legislation.

The ACA isn't just a dense policy package or a campaign tactic. It’s a long overdue service to the American people that we should all embrace as students. I encourage you to look beyond party rhetoric and to truly examine the benefits American citizens receive under the provisions of the ACA. If you’re a student who is worried about finding employment after college, feel relieved that the ACA will allow you to stay on your parents’s coverage. And if you’re a concerned citizen, feel proud that we finally live in a country where access to health care isn’t based on class. If you believe in the America that provides opportunities for all of its citizens, then your decision is easy — re-elect Obama on Tuesday.

Giancarlo Buonomo is an LSA freshman and member of the College Democrats.