December 19, 2014

President Signs Legislation to Complete Health Plan and Overhaul Student Loan Programs

  • The American health care system is a patchwork of public and private programs that serve citizens in different ways, depending on their age, military...

In signing the final piece of the health reform legislation, President Obama sought to shift some of the spotlight to the fact that it would also revamp the federal government’s student loan programs.

The White House says the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act would save taxpayers $68 billion dollars in coming years by ending what Obama calls a “sweetheart deal” for banks in federally guaranteed student loans. At a signing ceremony on the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College last week, Obama said the changes in the loan system had gotten “overlooked amid all the hoopla” over health care reform. However, much of the "savings" from the student loan provisions are spent right away on other education programs, such as increased Pell grants, making the net deficit reduction from the education provisions $19 billion.

Some House Democrats objected to certain parts of the main health care law that Obama signed earlier in March. The reconciliation package changed the earlier legislation to address some of those concerns. Among the changes: An unfortunate delay in taxing high-cost health plans, a tax that many analysts agree could not only raise revenue but discourage wasteful health-care spending. 

The Concord Coalition has argued that the expansion of health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans makes it all the more important to curb excessive costs.