High Stakes: America’s Journey to the Affordable Care Act


(rustling) Kim Crawley: Are ya up? Are ya twisted? (rustling) Here, let’s unhook your toe. Sometimes it stops me in my tracks. There was a time when I didn’t imagine what next week would be like for Isaac. (scratching) He was so sick, all of the time. (sighing)
(shuffling) Still waking up? (tape ripping) Yeah, I know, this’ll wake you up quick. (tape ripping) Thank you. You don’t really think about the cost that goes into caring for your child when you’re sitting there
watching it happen. (water running)
(motor sputtering) (bird chirping) I never checked my insurance statement to see what it was costing us. Everybody was like, oh, this plan’s great, you guys are covered 100%, you
have nothing to worry about. And so, I didn’t worry about it. But, you know, that only
lasts for so long apparently, (chuckles) back in 2008, 2009. (emotional orchestral music) President Barack Obama: We have been
debating health care for decades. Every single one of you, at some point, have met constituents,
with heartbreaking stories. And you’ve looked them in
the eye and you’ve said, we’re gonna do something about it. That’s why I wanna go to Congress. And now, we’re on the threshold
of doing something about it. Chip Kahn: Having all Americans covered with health insurance is a Holy Grail. It always was the goal
that everybody sought, from really all ideological
perspectives, although the paths they chose were different. It all got started by Theodore Roosevelt. Julie Rovner: Germany had sort of started
to give health insurance to its population and, you
know, there was a thought that that might happen here and it didn’t. And then in the 1930s, Franklin
Roosevelt had wanted to put health care in social security
and was advised not to. Kahn: Through Truman, it became part of the Democratic Party Platform and then Lyndon Johnson
was able to carry it off, and we got Medicare and Medicaid. President Lyndon Johnson: And we marvel
not simply at the passage of this bill, but what we marvel at, is
that it took so many years to pass it. (static crackling) Kahn: And then after that, it
really was off until 1993. (clapping) President Bill Clinton: For the first
time in this century, leaders of both political
parties have joined together around the principle of providing universal, comprehensive health care. It is a magic moment and we must seize it. (clapping) Nancy-Ann DeParle: So, I had worked in the
Clinton administration, and was involved in the
Clinton health reform effort which famously, failed. Rovner: One of the problems
with the Clinton plan was that the stakeholders, particularly the insurance companies
and the drug companies, they were on the outside
throwing rocks in. So, there was all of this groundwork that was laid when Obama got elected. The idea was maybe we should sit down with all the stakeholders, and
see what they could live with because everybody agreed the system wasn’t functioning very well. DeParle: Our goal is to try to
address all of these challenges and we’re doing it by working
with Congress and stakeholders across the system including you. This part of politics is
a team sport, it’s not easy. Rovner: It was really, sort of,
exciting but it was, boy, it was never inevitable, it
almost died so many times. Kahn: You needed a president that
was willing to take it on. That’s one thing about President Obama, was that he and his team had decided this was gonna be a priority, and that was the approach they took. (vehicle idling) Crawley: Hi, handsome, how was school? Child: Good. Crawley: Good. (grunting) (smooching) I’d actually had a miscarriage,
right before I had Isaac, so he was technically my rainbow baby. (door creaking) Hey, hang that backpack up, please. We went in for the 18-week
(somber music) ultrasound and that’s how we found out that there was potentially
something big going on with him. (child humming “Baby Shark”)
(paper rustling) Child: Why are you singing “Baby Shark”? Isaac: How did you know? Child: Because I can hear you doing it. Crawley: Esophageal atresia, it
falls under an umbrella, there are actually five
different diagnoses, so he was born, he had a piece
of his esophagus up here, he had a little piece
coming out of his stomach, but absolutely nothing in the middle. In Isaac’s first 13
months, he hit $2 million. And that was in one year
of almost nonstop ICU care and 14 major surgeries. We brought him home when
he was about 13 months old. It was February of 2010. I’d placed his regular
medical supplies order and nothing arrived in the mail. So I called and she said, oh,
he doesn’t have insurance, there’s nobody to pay for this. And I said, what do you mean
he doesn’t have insurance? That was when we were notified that Isaac had lost his health insurance. (birds chirping)
(sad piano music) I felt like I’d let Isaac
down, at that point. This is my job, to make
sure he’s healthy and safe and he’s seeing the right doctors, and I can’t do that without
access to insurance for him. (upbeat violin music) When Isaac lost his health care,
it was February of 2010 and the ACA was signed into
law about a month later. Rovner: I’ve been on Capital Hill
since the early 1980s, that was the craziest
day I ever experienced on Capital Hill, was the
day that it finally passed. (clapping) President Obama: Let’s get this done. DeParle: That whole day was surreal. Rovner: There was an enormous
amount of protestors that were all over the Capital grounds. Kahn: There was a lot of heat about it. Rovner: And there was a feeling of, sort of, sitting there witnessing history. DeParle: It was a little bit scary. Representative David Obey: On this vote,
the yay’s are 219, the nay’s are 212, the motion to concur in the
Senate amendment is adopted, (gavel thuds)
without objection, the motion to reconsider
is laid on the table. (cheering)
(clapping) DeParle: It was surreal. You no longer have to worry if you have a preexisting condition, that your lifetime and annual limits will no longer be a factor. Just makes a huge difference
in people’s peace of mind. (clapping) President Obama: Today, after almost a century of trying, today, after all the
votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America. (clapping) Good day. (clapping) Crawley: Isaac today is amazing. (gentle upbeat music) He is the most typical 11 year old you’ll probably ever find. And when I look outside and
see him with his friends, and riding his bike and playing, he is living the life
he was intended to live, and it’s a life that we weren’t sure he was going to live,
at one point in time. (child giggling) Child: I call dibs. I’ll be– Crawley: We used to say, you
know, gosh, look at Isaac, he could be the guy who cures cancer or he could be the next President, but I don’t think it
should have to come to that to justify why Isaac deserves health care more than any other person. (toy rattling) Child: Winner! Crawley: You know if he’s just
being the best Isaac, that he can be someday, I’m happy. If he’s happy, everything
else falls into place. (gentle upbeat music)

2 comments

  1. The Republican Party, if it ever did believe in universal coverage, no longer does. No matter what they say their policies clearly show that they want to reduce the number of people who have health insurance.

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