This refers to the Editorial “Obama's healthcare triumph” (March 23). The success of this historic welfare legislation is not just the result of the efforts by President Obama and the Democrats but of the people across America who supported it despite strong opposition by the Republicans. The passage of the legislation by the House of Representatives also proves that unfettered freedom given to capitalists can cause serious problems even in an important sector like healthcare. By giving the bill top priority, Mr. Obama demonstrated what he really meant by the word “change.”
It is against many odds that Mr. Obama has triumphed in getting the healthcare bill passed by the U.S. Congress. While the bill promises coverage for the uninsured and those with pre-existing medical conditions, the main drawback seems to be its prohibitive cost. The funding will be provided by the government. This would increase government spending and the bill plans to offset it by cutting other areas of expenditure including medicare funding as well as by increasing taxes, both of which are not desirable. What is the use of introducing one scheme at the expense of another?
Mr. Obama won a remarkable victory for the average Americans in general and for himself in particular on March 21. Hats off to American democracy where 34 of his own partymen voted against the bill along with the opposition. Can we think of such a thing happening in India?
Comdt. G.V. Mathew (retd.),
In the U.S., entrenched business interests are so powerful that they will not tolerate any attempt to rein in their profiteering propensities. The Republicans tried to trivialise the healthcare debate by resorting to every dirty trick in the book. The conservative media subjected the President to vicious attacks, but failed to unnerve the White House occupant who is made of sterner stuff. What sets apart statesmen from politicians is the ability to doggedly pursue a noble cause despite the huge political and personal risks involved.
The chequered history of American healthcare reform holds out a lesson for other democracies: even progressive measures should be seen as politically correct in order to win wider acceptability.
The ardent prayer of every Indian health insurance policyholder now is that this historic American legislation may become a precursor to a similar measure in India where premiums are skyrocketing while the cost of hospitalisation and medical treatment is going way beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. As it has become difficult for insurance companies even to service the policies at the existing levels of coverage, there is no question of increasing the coverage to keep in step with the hike in the cost of medicare.
Adding to the agony of policyholders is the attitude of even public sector insurance companies which are profit-oriented. If insurance reform was necessary for such an advanced country as America, it stands to reason that a country like ours needs it more.