Students divided on new health care laws

Story by Rob Hanson

Many Americans are still unsure of what the historic health care reform bill, passed by Congress Sunday and signed into law by President Barack Obama Wednesday, will mean for them.

However, UW-Eau Claire students have definitely taken sides on the growing controversy over the issue.

While proponents say the bill is a much-needed change and step into the future, many have expressed concerns over the role the government plays in capitalism the overall cost of the bill.

“I think it is a really good base for the change that we want to see,” said Allison Kimble, junior and president of the College Democrats. “Reform was completely essential to advancing our way of life.”

Kimble said she thinks the best aspects of the bill are restrictions on insurance companies and allowing people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26-years-old.

“That’s going to be essential to a lot of young people going into the workforce,” Kimble said.

Bobby Hamill, senior and president of the College Republicans, said the few benefits of the bill are outweighed by the cost of the bill.

“The amount it’s going to raise the debt in the future is a big issue I have,” Hamill said. “Especially as a student and having to pay all that off in the future.”

Hamill said another problem with the reform is that it’s contents are vague, even to those who voted in favor of it.

“It’s just so overwhelming, it’s just so sweeping there wasn’t enough debate about the individual elements of it,” Hamill said. “I think this kind of just is indicative of (the Democrats) style of government, not necessarily listen to what the people want but do what they feel is best for the American people.”

Junior sociology major Pat Olson is very close to the issue. His father owns an insurance company in Medford, Wis. The new regulations imposed on the insurance industry will cap premiums and not allow companies to turn away people with pre-existing conditions. Olson said those restrictions could signify the beginning of the end for his family’s small business.

Olson said he felt misrepresented when the bill passed, and that his biggest concern is with big government stepping in controlling a major chunk of the economy.

“It seems that whenever government steps in, things go down the tubes,” he said.

Even for those who support health care reform, the finalized version of the bill fell a bit shy of what some proponents hoped for.

Junior Paydon Miller, Student Senator and Development Director for the College Democrats of Wisconsin, said the biggest thing he felt is missing from the reform is a public option.

“I would prefer it have a little more teeth to it, but any progress is progress,” Miller said. “And it does leave it open to be built upon in the future.”

“We are covering 32 million more people, which I don’t how you can rationalize that as being anything but a positive step.”

The law’s changes will be complete in 2014, a time-frame Miller said is quite impressive for such a large reform.