March 23, 2012 - 3:25 pm

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Two years after President Barack Obama signed his landmark health care overhaul into law, the issue is as polarizing today as it was then with the debate rippling through Virginia’s U.S. Senate race Friday.

Despite its many detractors, and with the U.S. Supreme Court preparing to determine its legality, President Barack Obama made it clear this week that he’ll be campaigning on — not away from — the issue.

U.S. Senate candidate Timothy M. Kaine, who championed the legislation as Democratic National Committee chairman, also embraced the law Friday, its two-year anniversary.

Republicans, meanwhile, were busy lambasting the law and all its advocates — particularly Kaine.

“Despite promises, this new health care law has become one of the biggest impediments to job creation today,” said Republican U.S. Senate candidate and former Gov. George Allen in a statement.

“Health care costs are on the rise, taxes have increased and small businesses have been saddled with burdensome fees, penalties and mandates,” he said. “This is not the health care reform Americans want or deserve. I want to be the 51st vote in the U.S. Senate to repeal and replace it.”

Allen went on to say that “no Washington bureaucrat should get between patients and their doctors” and suggest that options like personalized health savings accounts are a better path to more affordable health care options.

In a statement quoting Virginians who claim to have benefited from the law, Kaine called it a significant step in the right direction, saying it had “impacted millions of Virginians by putting patients, instead of insurance companies, in charge of their health care.”

Still, Kaine said more needed to be done to create a sustainable health care system and reduce costs.

“But we can’t go back to the bad old days…repealing the Affordable Care Act, as my opponent George Allen has called for, would undo the significant progress, do nothing to slow rising premiums, and put power back in the hands of insurance companies rather than doctors and patients.”

A video launched by the National Republican Senatorial Campaign (below), which features Kaine, pointed to new cost estimates and higher premiums to label the law a failure that doesn’t measure up to what Democrats promised.

The Democratic Party of Virginia, meanwhile, issued a report on Allen’s record in the U.S. Senate on health care issues. A release accompanying the report says Allen “did nothing to control rising health care costs, curb insurance company abuses, or insure more Americans.”