Obama's health care plan mimics Nixon's

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law what was arguably the most historic piece of legislation passed by the 111th Congress: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As liberals rejoiced and conservatives grimaced, the Affordable Care Act became law.

Commonly known as health care reform, this landmark law brought the tyrannical reign of insurance companies to an end. Despite irrational opposition from the right, the final passage of the bill provides fair and affordable options for the estimated 46 million Americans living without health care coverage.

With the national fervor surrounding healthcare reform simmering down, it seems timely to take a look at the actual content of the bill in a comparative context with previous attempts at reform, most notably under Republican administrations.

As early as the Jan. 30, 1974, State of the Union address, President Richard Nixon was touting the benefits of not only reforms to the health care system, but also the need for a universal health care plan to enable every American to gain access to care.

The Nixon Era proposals for health care reform were not defeated due to public unrest or aversion to the proposed content. During this period in the battle for reform, the bill became a victim of circumstance. By 1974, Watergate had come to dominate the national discourse and Nixon’s health care lost traction; the 1970s became another failure in the annals of reform.

The bill Obama signed in the spring of 2009 forbids insurance companies from placing an annual or lifetime limit on a policy, bans dropped coverage of an ill patient, and eliminates discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions, along with many other provisions which echo Nixon’s call for coverage of all.

Clearly, upon comparatively examining these two attempts at health care reform, the levels of hypocrisy within the conservative platform become evident.

The health care plan proposed under President Nixon’s Administration is very similar to the plan which President Obama proposed almost 40 years later, and the same Republican party which once came close to historically implementing reform has become the ‘party of no’ in a futile effort to block it.