President Barack Obama’s health care plans might be the biggest thing he hopes to accomplish in his eight years in office, but they might also be what condemn him in the history books as a bad or faulty president.
Like most previous commanders in chief, Obama will be remembered not by the overall impact of his time spent in the oval office but by the one or two occurrences which made the biggest splash. Except for those dedicated to specific individuals or time periods, historical accounts don’t have the time or space to go over each and every president’s victories and errors.
In Obama’s case, the hectic rollout of the Affordable Care Act has definitely caused the biggest splash. Though certain bumps in the road — such as the temporary government shutdown — cannot be attributed solely to the Democratic Party or the Obama administration, enough errors have compiled to make the whole health care law look like a series of mishaps.
Most are by now aware of the faulty Affordable Care Act website which has disallowed thousands of Americans to receive or sign up for the health care they were promised leading up to the act’s establishment. The Obama administration recently released that only 26,794 people have been able to enroll in the act via the website as a result of its clunky, poor setup. When you consider the grand promises made by the Obama administration, 26,000 is really quite pathetic.
Additionally, many people have felt betrayed by what they feel have been blatant lies from Obama and his administration. Obama’s vehement promises that Americans will be allowed to keep their doctors or keep their health care plans if they so desire have proven to be false. Since the implementation of the act, thousands of American citizens have received notification of cancellation of their current plans, which goes directly against what our president previously assured us. As what might seem like outright betrayal or dishonesty, this revelation has set the president back quite a bit in terms of public approval. A Quinnipiac poll, taken earlier this week, revealed that 52 percent of Americans find Obama “not honest and trustworthy.”
Compared to the approval rating of nearly 70 percent Obama had in early 2009, this is certainly a turn for the worse. In general, Obama’s approval rating — according to Gallup polls — has been falling steadily from that point to today. However, there is a difference between “approving” of a president and finding him to be “honest.”
In an effort to recover from these setbacks, Obama introduced a new law on Thursday, Nov. 14, allowing all Americans can keep aforementioned cancelled health care plans for one year until both the public and companies can adjust to the changes.
This move will most likely do a lot to improve people’s feelings toward Obama, as those who found themselves without a health care plan and unable to sign up for one are now once again furbished with their old plan. A USA Today article reports the president as having said: “I think it’s fair to say that the rollout has been rough so far.”
Despite the obvious understatement of this sentence, it is good that Obama is recognizing that some things that were messed up, untrue or didn’t happen need to be accounted for. Add to this the apology he already issued about the broken promises of being able to keep plans, and you’ve got quite a bit of apology. As he demonstrated with the new law implemented Thursday, apologies are not enough. By giving people a year to adjust to the new system and to look for a good replacement plan for health care, Obama has found a compromise under which he can save a little bit of face, and the public can ease their transition into "Obamacare" America.
Is this recent development enough to save Obama from ever-lowering public opinion polls? Probably not. But it shows that he is willing to do more than just say, “I’m sorry,” in an effort to alleviate the errors he and his administration have made.
It is still relatively early in his second term; Obama has two full years to make up for the series of slip-ups that defined 2012 and 2013. However, he might find it is much harder to recover the love and respect of the American people than it was to lose them.
Say what you will about the Obama administration or the Democratic and Republican parties, but we can only hope that this development marks a new era of progress.
What most can agree upon is that it is going to take a lot of work, progress and reconciliation in order for Obama to achieve a positive status in the American history books. Whether as a victory or a failure, Obama’s health care plans will be the defining factor of his two-term seat as U.S. commander in chief.