So here we are just after a year in office and Barack Obama has pushed through a major piece of domestic policy. His Healthcare Bill will provide access to healthcareto 32 million more Americans. It is the biggest change to the US healthcare system in decades.
I have little idea how Obama is doing in other policy arenas but we would all agree his healthcare reform is a major achievement. His legacy must now be assured.
However, it is not solely an achievement in social domestic policy but just as importantly, a lesson in political leadership and management. The bill was passed in the House of Representatives by just seven votes, an indication of the strength of feeling against the change and of how much effort the Obama administration must have put in to overcome doubters and ensure success.
Obama has demonstrated classic political leadership and as we approach the UK general election he has provided an excellent lesson for the 2010 new government in leading and managing public sector reform and ensuring sustained affordability of public services. The Obama lessons are clear: he stuck doggedly to his vision and promise, he was pacey yet flexible in his approach without compromising his values, and by tackling it in the first year of a four year term, he has ensured that much of the anger felt by his opponents will have dissipated by the time of the next Presidential election.
I cannot recall the last time a new UK government tackled a big embedded social change in a similar way. Perhaps we have to look all the way back to 1945 and the introduction of the welfare state? Wouldn’t it good if the new 2010 government, in light of the recession, tackled the necessary changes required to state-funded services to ensure their stability and ongoing success in the same focused, visionary and determined way?