The health care reform act that was passed in 2010 was supposed to be an accomplishment of historic importance for the Democratic Party and President Obama, whose goal has been universal health insurance. In principle, US citizens are obligated to obtain private medical insurance. Those with incomes below a certain level will be eligible to receive subsidies for the costs. In this way, it is planned to reduce the uninsured population, currently about 48 million people (equivalent to about 15% of the total population). The Republican Party, who hates “big government,” has spent nearly the last three years trying to block and eliminate this reform, even to the point of causing a federal debt default crisis and forcing the temporary closure of the government last fall. Ultimately, their efforts were frustrated, and the health care reform law has finally started full-scale implementation as of January this year.
However, the reform stumbled from the start of operation of the insurance market that is a main policy element. The insurance market was opened in October as the registration site for individuals, but there were many connection failures. President Obama stated that people would be able to continue their existing insurance coverage if they wished, but the insurance companies began sending policy cancellation notices, stating that the “existing contract does not meet the minimum standards of the health insurance reform law.”
The missteps with the introduction of the main elements of the health care insurance reform, along with criticism for breach of promises has resulted in a drop in the approval rating of President Obama to around 40%, the lowest level since he took office. Furthermore, his disapproval rating reached a record high of nearly 55%, and confidence in President Obama, which has usually remained at a high level even when his approval rating has dropped, according to the most recent polls has declined to 49%. Looking back, in 2013 there was very little success on important issues where results were expected, such as a comprehensive immigration reform, tax reforms, and stronger gun control. Even diplomatically there is a continuing vagueness, with an ambiguous Asia-oriented stance, and a forced retreat from military strikes against Syria. Adding the faltering of the health insurance reforms completely blows away the successful defeat of the Republican Party over the government closure. Just one month ago it appeared that the Republican Party was on the verge of self-destruction, and that the Democrats would easily win the mid-term elections to be held this year. Now things have been reversed, and the Obama administration is facing their biggest crisis in the fifth year of their term.