He promised change and he’s delivered.
U.S. President Barack Obama is poised to sign a reformative health care bill into law that would provide coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans.
The House of Representatives voted 219-212 in favour of the controversial $940 billion health care overhaul late Sunday. The bill will also change the way insurance companies are allowed to operate and will ban the practice of denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
“We proved that this government – a government of the people and by the people – still works for the people,” President Obama said Sunday.
Obama’s health care reform bill is being likened to Medicaid and civil rights legislation in the 1960s.
While Sunday’s vote was one that will go down in American history, a companion fix-it package for the health care bill still faces debate in the Senate this week.
A group of anti-abortion politicians opposed to the bill threatened derail Obama’s universal health care plan, but a last-minute deal with the bloc, led by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, produced the results the President was hoping for. Obama said the bill will hold up current legislation that bans federal funding of abortions except in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger.
Republicans weren’t satisfied with the updated terms regarding abortion. When Stupak argued the measure was sufficient a shout of “baby killer” came from the Republican side of the chamber Sunday.
The health care bill’s passage galvanized the GOP — some alluded the approval of the legislation marked the beginning of totalitarianism. Not one Republican voted in favour. Thirty-four Democrats also voted against the bill.
The Republicans claim the legislation will drive up deficits and limit Americans’ choices.
Obama’s health care reform is projected to cut deficits by approximately $138 billion over 10 years. Americans will be required to purchase insurance and most of the money in the bill will go toward helping middle class families pay their premiums.
The legislation also extends Medicaid – the federally funded health care program for the poor.
Approximately $400 billion in higher taxes over a decade will help pay for the reform.