Health reform law anniversary draws praises and renewed vows for repeal

The act's architects point to benefits people have enjoyed and the progress that has been made, while critics continue calls for its dismantling.

By David Glendinning — Posted March 24, 2011

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As the one-year anniversary of President Obama's signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law arrived, policymakers and observers used the occasion to issue reminders of what they see to be at stake in the health system reform debate.

The week of March 21 gave both sides the opportunity to renew their positions on the reform law, which was enacted March 23, 2010, after a long and bitter legislative contest. The administration started out the week by launching the "Better Benefits, Better Health Initiative," a public information campaign.

Although most of the major reforms in the law will not launch until 2014, the White House is promoting some of the protections and coverage expansions that already have occurred. Each day of the week, the administration and other reform law advocates planned numerous events focusing on the positive effects the reforms have had.

"One year into the health care law, you, your family and your small business may be eligible for important new benefits that will ensure you get the care you need and deserve at a lower cost," said the Dept. of Health and Human Services website announcing the campaign. "From preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs to prescription drug discounts for seniors, from young adults having the chance to stay on their parents' insurance to tax credits for small businesses, the Affordable Care Act is providing new health care rights, protections and choices."

But reform law opponents, who planned their own events for the anniversary week, said the statute would prove fiscally unsustainable over the long term. They are continuing to push for repealing the law in its entirety but also are working to undo individual key elements through legislation or court action.

"Obamacare is a sinking ship, and when it starts to go below the waves, the very groups and organizations that sought refuge in deals with the White House will be the first groups Democrats turn to for more money to fill the holes," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) said in an address marking the anniversary of enactment. "Short of repealing Obamacare wholesale, we will do so retail through death by a thousand cuts. We will fight this until we win."

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