Brian Blase

One year ago today, President Barack Obama signed a landmark federal healthcare reform law, which has already provided Americans with affordable health care coverage they could not get before the bill. Republic opponents of the law continue to say the it infringes on states’ rights. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010, allows children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until they are 26, guarantees coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and saves senior citizens money on their prescription drugs. All of the reforms will be implemented by 2014, according to the law. Brian Blase, health care analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the law is too far-reaching and expensive. “All of the benefits carry a cost,” Blase said. “Whenever you try to regulate human behavior, there are unintended consequences.” Blase said the public popularity of the law today is lower than when it was first introduced, while the Obama administration expected it to gain popularity, he said. House Republicans’ efforts to repeal the bill are unlikely to gain traction, with Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House. But GOP lawmakers continue their plans to defund the law before it fully goes into effect. Blase said the resistance is working because Florida courts already determined the law unconstitutional. Blase expects the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the constitutionality of the law sometime next year. Until then, he worries about the amount of power unelected officials in the bureaucracy have over the enforcement of the law. Ethan Rome, executive director of the grassroots organization Health Care for America NOW!, said the law represents the end of insurance company abuses. “[The opposition] is a completely partisan, corporate-based attack,” Rome said. “Republicans are corporate backers. They want to give our health care back to the insurance companies.” Rome said Republicans have spent a lot of money on advertising that lead people to believe negative propaganda about the law. He expects the law to gain popularity as it reaches more people. Rome said any opposition will be unsuccessful because voters will not tolerate a rolling back of the new health care protections. For students, the most prominent change may be the policy that allows children to stay on their parent’s insurance plan until age 26, he said. “It gives you health security while you’re looking for a job,” Rome said. UT professor of public affairs David Warner said while partisans are not completely satisfied with the law, the policy is successful in ensuring that illness will not devastate a family. “There is a concern that people with higher incomes will see their taxes go up,” he said. Warner said repealing is a bit of a fantasy because the opponents do not really have a proposal. “The bill is not going to be repealed as long as Obama is president,” he said.