Healthcare Reform We Can All Believe In

When President Obama signed legislation enabling millions to gain access to health insurance, he achieved a milestone that eluded seven previous presidents.

A member of the audience holds a "Thank You" sign during President Obama's speech on health care reform at St. Charles High School in St. Charles, Mo., March 10, 2010. (Source: White House)

To achieve what was seemingly impossible, he knew throwing in the towel was not an option. He best expressed his mission in remarks after the House vote: “For most Americans, this debate has never been about abstractions, the fight between right and left, Republican and Democrat—it’s always been about something far more personal.  It’s about every American who knows the shock of opening an envelope to see that their premiums just shot up again when times are already tough enough.  It’s about every parent who knows the desperation of trying to cover a child with a chronic illness only to be told “no” again and again and again.  It’s about every small business owner forced to choose between insuring employees and staying open for business.  They are why we committed ourselves to this cause.”

As a member of the civil rights generation, I beamed with pride as I saw the collection of yea votes in the Obama column and heard the chants “Yes We Can! Yes We Can!” in the House Chamber. As expected, he did not receive one Republican vote. President Obama’s Republican foes will seek to undermine progress. After the second House vote of 220-211 to approve a package of changes of the bill, the Republicans were unsuccessful in its attempts to kill the bill through a motion that would have sent it back to committee. Despite beating the odds, the president will also continue to face fresh battles as the GOP seeks to repeal the bill through lawsuits and other measures as well as use health care reform as an issue to gain Congressional seats in the House and Senate during the midterm elections.

The passage of health care reform legislation was a momentous occasion not only because I want our nation’s chief executive to succeed and make this nation better and more bountiful. It represented a triumphant moment for one of “the children of the dream”—the realization that the generation we spawned and mentored has, indeed, become transformative leaders who perform at the highest levels. Barack Obama has been superb is his role as the nation’s commander-in-chief. Arriving to office with greater challenges than any president since FDR, he has saved our nation from financial ruin and passed the biggest economic stimulus bill ever, saving and creating more than 2 million jobs in the process. Now, he has passed landmark healthcare legislation and I am fully confident he will tackle the issues of unemployment and job creation with the same political pragmatism and executive skill. That’s change I believe in.

Earl G. Graves Sr. is the Chairman and Publisher of Black Enterprise.

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ACROSS THE WEB
  • Dr. Marian Styles-McClintock

    Let’s join forces now and show America that we are supporting the President in BIG numbers.

  • Carolyn Odom

    Thank you, thank you , thank you Mr. Graves. These are the kind of reasoned comments I’ve been waiting to see expressed by other leaders, especially African American leaders. Lest we continue to be confused, health care reform, economic reform and job creation are indeed all a part of a “Black Agenda”, and if some “leaders” cannot understand this, then they need to be replaced by ones who do. This is indeed an historic time for our nation and for our people. In President Obama, we have a leader who is smart enough to understand that all our agendas are interrelated–and, there is no need for separtism or “trickle down”. When the economy is healthy and our people have access to the care that can make them healthy, then we are all better off. We need to add our voices to this mean-spirited, violence-based, divisive dialogue that is currently sweeping our nation. Those who stood up, sat down or marched–and those who benefitted from those actions, need to come together and flood the airwaves and the legislative offices with voices that say, “We too are Americans , we vote, and we pay taxes, and here is what we think about these issues!” Let’s get started now before it’s too late. Mr. Graves and Black Enterprise have provided us with a template!

  • Thomas Waller

    Mr. Graves, thank you so much for your insight. Indeed this was a historic moment, especially for so many who have not had access to healthcare. This will be life changing for so many people in our country. I only wish that all in our country could see that. We have much to celebrate but there is much more that needs to be done. Jobs need to be created. Education for our children needs to be improved. Hunger in our communities and access to healthy food
    must be addressed. Indeed there is work to do. My true hope is that we will galvanize and work on addressing these issues and not be distracted by the divisive tactics that are being used today, that will only lead to a mounting tension that seems to be growing in this country. I can feel it in the air and it truly worries me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  • wtaylorhi@aol.com

    Thank you for writing this commentary. I always knew that this health bill would get through Congress. It got ugly at times but I knew the President would not let it get this far and then drop the ball. I am a volunteer with Organizing For America which is the organization that the President still calls upon us to get active and support his agenda. The past 2 months, we really honed in on this and called Congress members all across the country every day. The President is still a great community organizer as well as a great President. He knows how to get people fired up and take action! I am proud to be apart of his behind the scenes grass roots movement.

  • Stephanie Stevens

    Thank you for writing this commentary. As an insurance agent and a benefits coordinator , I have worked with many people who are no longer able to afford the premiums, who are in a low-income situation, and who would love to get some kind of health insurance to give them some peace of mind. And many times because of preexisting conditions, they are refused. It hurts my heart because i know that without insurance, all it takes is one catastrophic medical emergency to wipe a family out. So i am all for having choices about affordable health coverage for everyone. I am sorry that the President have to go through so much negativity, but in the end it will all be for the best.