Iowa City Stories

April 1, 2010

Amidst Health Reform Signing, Obama Looking To Further Build Support

Filed under: Local Issues — Tags: , , — Kent Nessa @ 12:21 pm

President Obama speaks to a supportive crowd at the Field House in Iowa City.

Signing Day

March 23, 2010 marked an incredible milestone for the Obama Administration and the United States. It marked the end of a century-long battle, starting with Teddy Roosevelt, to reform the nation’s healthcare system.

President Obama did something that no other president before him: he passed healthcare reform.

Many other presidents have tried to reform healthcare with no results. Not even Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, JFK, Nixon, nor Clinton accomplished what Obama did just slightly over one year into his term.

While part of the country rejoiced over the passage of health reform, there were some who weren’t supportive.

Obama made a planned visit to Iowa City, Iowa to continue to build support for health reform two days after signing it into law.

A day before his visit, however, there was a gathering for those who weren’t in favor of reform.


On a cool and rainy evening in Iowa City, citizens who opposed reform gathered on the east lawn in front of the Old Capitol to express their discontent with the new bill. A number of guest speakers, many of which were Republicans looking to run against incumbent Democrats, were some of the guest speakers.

Christopher Reed was one of the earlier speakers at the rally. Reed is the Republican nominee looking to unseat incumbent Democrat, Congressman Dave Loebsack, for Iowa’s 2nd District seat in the House of Representatives.

“Our elected officials strapped us with a bill we, the people, don’t want,” Reed stated to the crowd; which was met with roaring approval. “You, as the voting pubic, have a lot to think about,” he continued referring to this November’s midterm elections. “No more, Mr. President! Not without a fight!”

Brenna Findley, the Republican nominee for Iowa Attorney General, came two speakers after Reed. Findley discussed that 13 states’ Attorney Generals filed to take the new health reform legislation to court in hopes of repealing it.

“Where was our Attorney General?” Findley asked the crowd. She continued by claiming incumbent Attorney General, Tom Miller, wasn’t protecting Iowans’ rights.

Supporters of Reform

While there are a number of people who opposed the new healthcare reform legislation, there are those who support it.

Jake Shkolnick is a University of Iowa student who favors the legislation. “[It] keeps costs down while keeping a better quality of life,” he said. “I’ll get to stay on my parents’ health insurance. When I do get a job, I know I’ll have health insurance” due to the tax incentives the government gives businesses. “If I get sick, they can’t take it away from me,” he continued.

Shkolnick wasn’t shy, though, about discussing some of the shortfalls of the legislation. “I would certainly like to see a not-for-profit public option,” he said, “[and] even more tax breaks for low-income individuals if they can’t get it through their employer.”

Rick Spooner is a 47 year-old Iowa City citizen with cerebral palsy. Spooner hasn’t had health insurance for a number of years, but is on Medicaid and Medicare.”I think medical care is a right for every American citizen,” he said.

He supports the current legislation, but is still concerned that it may not be enough for those who currently don’t have any type of health insurance. “[It’s] gotta be better for people with lower income. As I get older, my medical condition could get worse. I can barely afford groceries now. Somebody’s gotta do something.”

Spooner discussed that he can’t do any sort of preventive health procedures unless it was an emergency, because Medicare and Medicaid won’t cover the costs of such procedures or he’s unsure of which procedures, if any, are covered by either one. “If I get a serious medical problem, I don’t know what what Medicare and Medicaid will cover.”

Any preventive procedures he wants to take would cost him out-of-pocket. “[The] last physical I took I had to absorb costs. There would have been several times I would have gone to a physician just to feel better.” But since he didn’t have any health insurance, he didn’t go.

“If I have to be in a wheelchair, who’s going to pay for that? What if I can’t do regular household duties? What if I can’t afford a maid to help me if I can’t do that when I’m 70? The current system doesn’t remove the insecurities or absorb the costs for preventive medicine,” he added. “I don’t know what else to do.”

Far From Over

While the long battle of whether or not health reform was going to become law is over, the actions of repealing it are not.

Obama was met with overwhelming support when he gave his speech at the Field House on the University of Iowa Campus March 25. Obama quickly reminded people that there is still plenty of work to be done, but the bill, as is, is accomplishing more than the previous status quo.

President Obama recognized that it was far from over. His response to Republican threats of repealing the bill: “Go for it.” He was confident in his response, stating that Republicans would have to explain to their constituents why they are wanting to take away their right to healthcare.

There may be a sect of the population that aren’t in favor of health reform, but there are a number of others who are relieved that a major hurdle has been successfully conquered. The fight for improving the health reform legislation will continue for years to come.


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