Health Care Reform Law

SIRS Knowledge Source – Integration Idea

President Obama signed the passage of health care reform legislation on March 23. He said it sets in motion “desperately needed reforms” sought by generations of Americans. The $938 billion health care reform law expands coverage to 32 million Americans.

House Democrats hailed the bill’s passage as a historic victory in the health care-reform battle. Republicans, however, voted unanimously against it, citing concerns of a “government takeover” of America’s health care system as well as uncertainty that it would hurt jobs, raise taxes on small businesses, and cut Medicare benefits for seniors.

But proponents of health care reform are optimistic about the new bill as new consumer protections are expected to be put in place along with guaranteed access to health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office also predicted that the new law would help to reduce the deficit over time and also reduce the premiums that most consumers would pay for health insurance.

Most of the law’s effect will come in 2014 with only minor changes being implemented in the first four years. It was designed that way so that the various “exchanges” required by state and Federal authorities will have time for creation, funding and implementation.

In 2014, states are required to have insurance marketplaces where citizens could shop for various health care insurance options. In order to facilitate the requirement for obtaining coverage, the government will offer subsidies with the purpose that everyone is afforded coverage.

Also in 2014, employers that do not offer coverage to employees will be subject to fines and all citizens will be required by law to have health care coverage — either through their employers or by individual policy purchases — or they too will face penalties. According to provisions in the bill, the cost of the reform legislation would come in the form of reduced spending on Medicare, new taxes and a levy on high-priced insurance policies.

Learning Activity: Essential Question

Should there be more government involvement in health care in the U.S.?

Ask students to critique the provisions of the health care reform law. Students should write a report of at least 200 words (or a presentation of at least seven slides) that cites at least three resources. Students should address the following essential questions for critical thinking in their reports (you can add or substitute others):

  • What are at least three facts that supported the need for health care reform?
  • In your opinion, what are the four most important reforms in this law and why?
  • Which provisions of the law don’t you like and why?
  • Would you have voted for the final House bill—why or why not?
  • What fixes would you vote for in the Senate reconciliation to improve the law?


In SIRS Knowledge Source access information on this topic using one of the following methods:

  • Type “Health Care Reform” in the Search box
  • Click on Leading Issue “Health Care Reform”
  • Quick Search box > Select Keyword and Date options > Uncheck all sources in SEARCH IN options

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