The United States Supreme Court handed the Obama administration a surprise election-year victory earlier today. By upholding the Presidents overhaul of America's broken health care system, it gave the administration a signatory legacy in the way Americans receive and pay for their medical care.
From the Oval office, the President reflected how: "whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country. It should be pretty clear by now that I didn't do this because it was good politics," he said. "I did it because it was good for the country."
To the Obama presidency that has otherwise been ordinary, this just might be its biggest achievement to date. The decision, which was written by the Conservative Chief Justice, John Roberts, a George W Bush appointee, aims to insure the more than 30 million uninsured American's much like that of Canada's Medicare. To a Supreme Court that tilts more conservative and has made historical decisions on 5-4 vote, including the Presidency in 2000, Chief Roberts decision to join the more liberal justices in the minority was a welcome and an extraordinary surprise.
While it gave the Democrats something to brag about on an important election year, the Republicans are seeing it as a wedge issue. According to their Chairman, Reince Priebus -- "the only way to save the country from ObamaCare's budget-busting government takeover of health care is to elect a new president."
The law that is expected to take effect in 2014, will prohibit insurance companies from refusing to cover Americans with existing problems. It will subsidize some costs for uninsured middle class Americans while it expands federal health coverage to the most vulnerable.
With this law, the United States joins a slew of countries, including Canada, in guaranteeing what should be the most basic rights of any citizen. In Canada, exactly 50 years ago, Saskatchewan became the first province to extend medical coverage to its citizens. The medical establishments went on strike and the Premier, Tommy Dougals, -- The Father of Canadian Medicare -- was branded a communist however he refused to budge.
The Premier had experienced what a lack of coverage would do to families and a child in his province. As a youngster, he was once told his injured knee would have to be amputated as he was refused proper care because of lack of money. He was only given medical care after his parents agreed to have an orthopedic surgeon operate on it as medical students observed. That changed his life as well as, in later years, Canada's for the better.
He later said - "I felt that no boy should have to depend either for his leg or his life upon the ability of his parents to raise enough money to bring a first-class surgeon to his bedside".
What the NDP Premier started in his province was later copied by Canada via Progressive Conservative Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, in theory and by Liberal Prime Minister, Lester B Pearson, in practice in 1966 using the Saskatchewan model as its foundation.
In the last century, there were two American Presidents who made the greatest impact on Americans. They were Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson. Roosevelt gave Americans the New Deal while Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.
The new law might give Obama a down payment to a great presidency. From the White House, he said, "Today's decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives are more secure because of this law."
In Canada, it has been part of our tradition and law for close to 50 years. The great universal medicare is still a great Canadian bipartisan jewel achieved a long time ago. Looking at what happened in the United States today, I am just surprised it took Americans this long to catch up to us.