Health care continued to polarize the presidential race as President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney went head to head on the issue Wednesday evening during the first presidential debate.
The President made it clear that Obamacare, a term he greets fondly, “doesn’t mean a government takeover.” Under the Affordable Care Act “you keep your own insurance, you keep your own doctor.” It will prevent insurance companies from taking advantage of the American people, he said, and extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.
Insurance companies already must allow parents to keep their children on their insurance plans until the age of 26. Romney said he plans to give people two options at no additional cost: they could choose the current Medicare program or join a private plan.
“The right answer is not to have the federal government take over health care and start mandating to the providers across America,” Romney said. “The private market and individual responsibility always works best.” His views represent widely supported GOP sentiments.
The debate continues as Democrats and Republicans carry the divergent health care approaches to voters.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat representing Chicago's north suburban 9th district believes that if Obamacare is repealed, many people in the state of Illinois who are already getting checks from insurance companies would be greatly impacted. “Hundreds of thousands of people will lose benefits that they are already getting and millions of people who are worrying about lifetime caps immediately could feel the impact,” said Schakowsky.
“The rhetoric from the Republican party and Mitt Romney is repeal and replace - there’s no plan on the table none at all,” she added.
If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, Schakowsky said that senior citizens in the state of Illinois would pay more for prescription drugs and women receiving preventative services such as contraceptives and screenings without copays could essentially end up having to pay out of pocket to cover fees.
“Insurance companies can’t jerk you around, they can’t impose arbitrary lifetime limits,” the President said. “If you don’t have health insurance we’re potentially setting up a group plan that allows you to benefit from group rates that are typically 18 percent lower than if your out there trying to get insurance on the individual market.”
But Chris Cleveland, vice chairman of the Chicago Republican Party, supported Romney’s agenda. “Obamacare is a disaster and Romney was right to point it out." Cleveland said he believes Romney "won" the debate, based partially on his health care stand.
Cleveland also added, that “a full scale takeover of health care,” referring to Obamacare, could end up leaving the country in a disaster. “It’s an economic disaster, it's a social disaster, a health care disaster, and people don’t want it.”
Both Obama and Romney did, however, find a common ground amongst the back and forth throwing of accusations. “The key task we have in health care is to get the cost down so it’s more affordable for families,” Romney said.
The two candidates agreed on one thing: voters would have a clear choice between the two of them on the health care issue in November.