Not long before midnight Sunday night/Monday morning, after nearly a year of heated debate, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the healthcare reform bill, in a 219-212 vote, in which all the House Republicans and thirty-four Democrats voted against the bill. It has been sent to President Obama to be signed into law.
Just after they passed the initial bill, the House then passed a supplemental “fix-it” bill which, among other things, removes Nebraska’s exemption from paying for Medicaid expansion in that state. That bill will go to the Senate for review, where, according to CNN news reports, the Republicans will likely do everything they can to stop it, using parliamentary points of order.
In order to help the bill pass, President Obama had to make several concessions, one of which – an executive order pledging White House support of existing strictures against Federal funding of abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in jeopardy – is drawing as much heat from women’s organizations like Planned Parenthood and NOW as the entire bill is taking from Republican critics, who feel it intrudes into the healthcare system in a heavy-handed fashion.
Some of the changes the bill will bring include a ban on insurers refusing coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions, and an expansion of the government-sponsored health plan for the poor.
All totaled, the bill bring more, and more dramatic, changes to the American healthcare system than any legislation since the bill creating Medicare in 1965.