By Vladimir Gladkov
Debates continue in the United States over President Barack Obama’s controversial healthcare bill. The proposed health reform may push the U.S. budget deficit further up by $340 billion or even 530 billion in the worst-case scenario, becoming a major challenge to the U.S. economy as its struggles to recover from the financial crisis.
Obama’s healthcare bill has won him many enemies in the U.S. political establishment, arousing a good deal of skepticism both among Republicans and inside his Democratic Party. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently verifying the reform’s compliance with the law. The verdict is expected in a few months’ time and may become the final nail hammered into Obama’s re-election hopes.
Like most other dubious initiatives, the healthcare reform pursues a noble goal. The Affordable Healthcare Act that Obama signed in 2012 aims to provide all U.S. citizens with individual medical insurance. Those who won’t be able to buy it will receive subsidies. In a major overhaul of the current system of one-year health insurance cards offered by insurance firms, the reform aims to lower the costs of healthcare services. But in reality, it may pick the taxpayers’ pockets.
In 2009, Obama assured Americans that his healthcare bill would cost the country $900 billion over ten years. Some experts are disputing his claims. Calculations made by researchers at George Mason University show that federal healthcare spending may hit a record high $1.15 trillion by the year 2020.
The U.S. Congress Budget Office has come up with an even gloomier outlook of $1.76 trillion. This will push the country’s $15-trillion public debt even higher.
Of all the mistakes made by Obama since he rode triumphantly into the White House four years ago, Obamacare as his healthcare reform has been dubbed by analogy with Medicare (a social insurance program for pensioners) is probably the greatest threat to his second-term ambitions. According to a poll held by the New York Times, only 36% of Americans approve of his healthcare bill.
Opponents of Obamacare slammed it as unconstitutional, particularly the clause that obliges every American, except the poorest ones, to buy a medical insurance card as of 2014 or face being fined.
Conservative Republicans fear a massive federalization of healthcare, higher taxes and stricter insurance regulations, while most wealthy Americans are feeling unhappy about having to pay the medical bills their poor compatriots cannot afford.
The destiny of Obamacare is now in the hands of the Supreme Court, or to be more precise, Chief Justice Antony Kennedy. If the court rules against the bill, Obama’s reputation may suffer a crushing blow dashing his plans to return to the White House.