obama’s deal




In this lesson, students will examine the key compromises made by the Obama administration, health industry lobbyists and members of Congress. Students will analyze these compromises and evaluate whether the Obama administration should have accepted them. For more background information on this topic and a glossary of health care reform terminology, see the Related Resources section.


Grade Level:

Grades 9-12


Subject Areas:

Civics, Economics, Government, U.S. History, Language Arts and Humanities



    The student will:
  • Understand the political negotiation process involved with passing a bill through Congress
  • Identify key steps in the legislative process where interested parties can have influence on the shape or intent of a bill
  • Understand how and why health care lobbyists influenced the health care reform bill
  • Analyze the costs and benefits of the lobbyist-influenced provisions in light of President Obama’s goals for health care reform
  • Evaluate whether these provisions should have been accepted by the Obama administration


Estimated Time Needed:

One 50-minute class period


Materials Needed:





Opening Activity:

Briefly review with students how a bill becomes a law using the Handout 1: Passing a Bill Through Congress chart included with this lesson. Review the basic steps of how a bill is conceived, assigned to a committee, and moves through both houses of Congress. Ask:

  • Where does the American public have a voice in the process? (Primarily through their representatives.)
  • What can citizens do to make sure their voice is heard? (Answers will vary, but mainly by communicating with their representatives.)


Main Activity: Deal or No Deal?

Students will review key proposals from two powerful health industry lobbyist groups. The goal is to show students the discussions between constituent groups and government leaders to create legislation that appeals to some, appeases others and minimizes opposition. In the end, the process doesn’t always go as planned.

  • Watch the video clip Chapter 2 Obama’s Deal: The Deal Making Begins.

  • Explain that political negotiations are an important part of getting a bill passed through Congress. The class is going to explore this process by examining and discussing two of the deals that were presented to the Obama administration during health care reform talks.

  • Divide the class into small groups of students. Distribute Handout 2: Deal or No Deal? Review the directions with the students, and answer any questions they may have.

  • Assign half the student groups to work on Deal #1: Health Insurance Industry Proposal and the other half to work on Deal #2: Pharmaceutical Industry Proposal.

  • Have students review their assigned deals and discuss the accompanying questions. Then have them make recommendations about how the administration should respond to the proposed deal.

  • Ask each group to select a spokesperson to present the group’s consensus and/or disagreement to the class. Encourage students to ask questions or make appropriate comments during the presentations.



This teacher's guide was developed by Cari Ladd. It was written by Greg Timmons. Advisers were Molly Lynde of Mills E. Godwin High School in Richmond, Va., and Megan Palevich of Montgomery School in Chester Springs, Pa.



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