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Final diagnosis on affordable healthcare

Miami Times Editorial Department | 3/27/2014, 9 a.m.

It’s the final stretch for millions of American citizens in need of President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Plan. With five days to go before the deadline, politicians, community leaders and scores of volunteers are working long hours at enrollment drives across Miami-Dade county and the nation where residents are packing churches, parks and health centers to sign up to avoid paying a penalty fee.

Studies show that Blacks still lag behind other ethnic groups in enrollments, but the president has demonstrated that this campaign crosses ethnic lines. So Obama has joined the race against time to help those who for years toiled in obscurity to finish a never-ending marathon of despair and frustration.

So our leader sprinted off these final weeks, jet-setting across the country on Air Force One in a last ditch effort to reach his goal of enrolling 7 million Americans in the plan.

With the deadline looming and last minute campaigning by even Miami Heat basketball superstar LeBron James, the White House and health officials should be congratulated for triggering a wave of 800,000 enrollments that took the overall number to 5 million.

Two million shy of his goal, President Obama’s signature program is in jeopardy once again of being labeled a failure by conservative politicians and business leaders who criticized the program as a wasteful, expensive plan that would replace millions of insurance plans that many working Americans had all along. They also attacked the plan as website glitches marred the program’s initial rollout.

How fitting that those technical glitches have been corrected giving White House officials and many Americans reasons to celebrate the four-year anniversary of the initial announcement of the plan. And what a race it has been as critics used technical difficulties, misconceptions and public opinion to get a head start in the sprint to the finish line.

As always, it’s not how one starts but how one finishes.

It’s the typical story that reflects Obama’s rise to power and his term in office. The underdog going up against the establishment to meet the needs of other underdogs in this country. As numbers continue to swell, the Affordable Health Care Plan is gaining ground on its critics but from closer examination the plan has already crossed the finished line. The race is over.

That’s because the plan was never about the numbers, or even the millions of the country’s workforce that has enjoyed health insurance for years. The plan was intended to solve the longstanding plight of working class citizens and those who were unable to afford medical insurance because of pre-existing conditions and other circumstances. Considered high-risk by many, this group that is the backbone of America was often looked over and ignored by insurance companies who wouldn’t give them a chance as greed and indifference swept the country during the housing market collapse that triggered the economic recession.

No other president has dared to address or expose the economic disparities of the poor than our current commander in chief. Not many well-healed business leaders, politicians and lobbyists on Capitol Hill will willing to take on the bloated insurance companies and fight for those who are sick physically and economically.

As America crosses the finish line, take a breather and consider the poor, the underdogs for winning a trophy after a long, hard-fought race.