Change We can Believe In? This is What Change Looks Like

ImageToday President Obama signed into law, H.R.3590 - The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

On Saturday, the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, passed an enormous, politically daring overhaul of the American health insurance and health care delivery system by a margin of 219-212.

President Obama, speaking on Saturday evening after the historic vote, said "Tonight we answered the call of history as so many generations of Americans have before us," he said. "When faced with crisis, we did not shrink from our challenge--we overcame it. We did not avoid our responsibility--we embraced it. We did not fear our future--we shaped it... This is what change looks like."

The bill will bring near-universal coverage to a wealthy country in which tens of millions of people are uninsured. The plan's various provisions will be phased in through 2014, and it is expected to expand coverage to about 95 percent of eligible Americans, compared with 83 percent today.

The measure represents the biggest expansion of the U.S. federal government's social safety net since the 1960s, when President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the Medicare and Medicaid government-funded health care coverage programs for the elderly and poor.

Change is complex, sometimes ugly, and always difficult. During this year-long battle against absolute Republican opposition, many questioned President Obama's leadership. some complained that he gave up too much to Democratic special interests. In the end, he led the negotiations within the party, and the charge against the Republican opposition.

Never in our history has such important and sweeping social change legislation passed without a single vote from the opporsition. Rather than a victory celebration, this step forward only marks the beginning of a very partisan presidency. Those of us who are tempted to shout "YES WE CAN!" need to understand that we have only just begun to fight for the outcomes we want for ourselves and the American people.

"Change we can believe in..."  requires constant, persistent effort. This legislative battle transformed President Obama from the iconic leader of the Democratic Party to the battle-hardened and confirmed leader.

Congratulations on a well-deserved victory.