Healthcare - Obama Presidency Oral History


In March 2024, coinciding with the anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) being signed into law, we released a selection of interviews related to healthcare reform. This collection captures the pursuit of healthcare reform during the Obama years and provides a panoramic view of the development, negotiation, implementation, and defense of the period’s marquee healthcare legislation, the ACA.

In their interviews, narrators outline the challenges Americans faced trying to access and pay for healthcare prior to the ACA and detail the healthcare reform effort’s central issues, such as balancing healthcare reform with other policy priorities, negotiations with industry stakeholders and congressional Republicans, the individual insurance mandate, the launch, and legal challenges to the ACA.

President Obama stands with his back to the camera in the foreground, engaged in conversation with two smiling women, who face the camera.
In her interview, Connie Anderson discusses the impact of her late sister Natoma Canfield's letter to President Obama. She details how the letter, which described Natoma's struggle with rising health insurance premiums after her cancer battle, influenced healthcare reform. Pictured above, President Obama speaks with Natoma Canfield, right, and her sister, Connie Anderson, in the Oval Office, December 12, 2012. The letter Canfield sent to the President hangs on the wall in the background. Photo by Pete Souza

Hear from Director of the White House Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle, cabinet secretaries and cabinet-level officers Kathleen Sebelius, Sylvia Burwell, and Peter Orszag, and healthcare policy experts Zeke Emanuel and Bob Kocher. Moreover, this release includes reflections from remarkable people outside the administration whose lives and work influenced and were influenced by healthcare reform efforts, including Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, business owner John Mier, and Connie Anderson, whose sister Natoma’s letter to President Obama during her battle with cancer took on a special role in government policy debates.

As we continue to release interviews, additional voices will further enrich this history and surface new stories.