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Obama Signs Historic Health Care Bill

President Barack Obama signs the Affordable Health Care for America Act on March 23, 2010 in Washington, DC.

After a year of acrimonious debate that threatened to derail President Barack Obama’s $938 billion health care overhaul, the bill has become law.

On Tuesday, Obama signed the act at a White House ceremony, providing coverage for 32 million uninsured Americans and marking the most important achievement of his government to date.

“Today after almost a century of trial, today after over a year of debate, today after all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America.” Obama said.

“Today, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.”

The House of Representatives voted 219-212 in favour of the bill late Sunday.

The legislation will change the way insurance companies operate and will ban the practice of denying coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions. It also extends Medicaid – the federally-funded health care program for the poor.

A companion fix-it package for the health care bill still faces debate in the Senate this week.

With files from the Associated Press