March 23, 2010
-- The House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress voted to send the 10-year and $938 billion bill to President Obama on Sunday night. The voting was almost strictly party line, with no Republicans voting in favor. A companion measure sought by House Democrats to make a series of changes to the main bill was approved 220-211. It goes to the Senate, where debate could begin as early as Tuesday.
The bill will extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, reduce federal budget deficits and ban such insurance company practices as denying coverage to people with existing medical problems, reports Henry J. Marshall of Tortola Capital.
Republicans united in opposition to Obama's redesign of the health care system, which they criticized as an unwarranted government takeover and pledged to repeal it. They plan to offer scores of amendments to slow or change the companion measure, which Democrats hope to approve as written and send directly to Obama for his signature.
Within six months of enactment of the bill -- or by the end of September -- consumers should notice some changes. Among them, insurers would be required to keep young adults as beneficiaries on their parents' health plans until they turn 26, and companies would no longer be allowed to deny coverage to sick children. Polls show the public is split over the bill, so Obama will stick with the sales job for the foreseeable future, with an eye toward helping those Democrats who cast risky votes for his plan and who are facing tough re-election battles in November.