OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

House Passes Historic Health Care Bill

November 7, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The House of Representatives on Saturday night approved landmark legislation designed to accomplish President Obama’s goals of reducing health care costs, increasing choices for consumers and guaranteeing access to quality, affordable insurance for all Americans. The final vote tally was 220-215. Thirty-nine Democrats broke with their party to vote against the bill, and only one Republican, Rep. Anh Cao [R, LA-2], voted in favor.

Previous Congresses and Administrations have tried several times over the past 40 years to revamp the U.S. health care system, but they have never come this far. The bill passed in the House represents the biggest change to the health care system and the biggest expansion in coverage since Congress created Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

The bill’s passage was secured in large part by a vote that took place earlier in the evening on an amendment from Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] to strengthen language in the bill banning the use of federal funds for abortions. The amendment, which was approved by a vote of 240-194, essentially restricts all low and middle-income people purchasing insurance with federal subsidies from buying a plan that covers abortions besides those resulting from rape or incest, or in cases where the mother’s life is endangered. A bloc of about forty conservative Democrats had been threatening for weeks to vote en masse to kill the bill if they weren’t allowed to vote on Stupak’s amendment.

President Obama also threw his full support behind the bill today in a plea to help House Democrats round up the final few votes they needed to get it passed. Speaking to the full House Democratic Caucus but gearing his remarks towards conservative Democrats, Obama said that voting against the bill wouldn’t protect them from partisan attacks. “None of you can expect the Republicans not to go after you if you vote against this bill,” Obama said at the meeting according to Rep. Henry Waxman [D, CA-30]. “They want this bill to go down for their own partisan reasons.”

The bill – known as the Affordable Health Care for America Act – seeks to expand health care coverage to the approximately 40 million Americans who are currently uninsured by lowering the cost of health care and making the system more efficient. To that end, it includes a new government-run insurance plan to compete with the private companies, a requirement that all Americans have health insurance, a ban on denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition and, to pay for it all, a surtax on individuals with incomes above $500,000. More thorough summaries of the bill can be found here.

The Senate is still weeks away from beginning debate on their own health care bill. The final details of their bill are still being negotiated, but whatever bill comes out of the Senate will be more conservative than the House’s bill in several ways. It is not clear that the Senate bill will end up containing a public option, and if it does, unlike the House bill it will allow individual states to opt out of offering it to their residents. The Senate’s bill will also provide fewer subsidies to help low and middle-income people buy insurance, and it will not include a surtax on the rich to offset its new spending.

The abortion issue that threatened to bring down the House bill so far has not been a problem in the Senate. Pro-choice Democrats are hoping to keep the Senate’s bill containing language that would allow people to use affordability credits to buy insurance that covers abortions, provided that the abortion part of the plan is fully paid for by individual premiums. The Senate language would then have to be reconciled with the House’s more conservative language by a joint-chamber conference committee that would be in charge of producing a final, merged bill. The final version will need one more vote from each chamber before it can be sent to President Obama to be signed into law.

Like this post? Stay in touch by following us on Twitter, joining us on Facebook, or by Subscribing with RSS.


Displaying 1-30 of 88 total comments.

  • LeMat 11/07/2009 9:05pm

    And so it begins…

    I wonder if they’re aware they are all currently committing not only perjury, but treason by violating their oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution. Healthcare is outside of the powers of Congress. If they do not know this then they have not read (or fail to understand) the document and should not hold Government office. If the Federal Government wants power over healthcare, they need to ratify an amendment to the Constitution. No, this is not an issue of “public welfare”. If “public welfare” meant “whatever the Government chooses to believe is for our own good”, then this nation was not EVER free. But we are (or were), so I must conclude it does not mean what they believe it to mean.

    We the people wrote the Constitution to reign in the power of Government. The oath you take is a trust, and should be inviolate. Your authority (and laws) are void the moment you violate that trust.

    Congress, you need to stop yourselves before WE THE PEOPLE need to stop you.

  • zachUT2006 11/07/2009 10:20pm
    Link Reply
    + -1

    To LeMat…. I think you have it backwards! It is our constitutional right to have affordable health care. I believe in capitalism but it is the governments responsibility to put regulations on goods and services that we the free people need to survive and prosper as a citizen. The cost of health insurance is out of control because it is not regulated. There is a reason why health insurance companies are making record breaking profits! If you don’t believe me just go look at the stock prices or profit statements! Just like oil companies when gas was over $4 a gallon record breaking profits. Why did that go down??? Well regulations from OUR government were put in place and the prices were cut in half. Lets take a look at the housing situation. Poor government regulations allowed lending fraud. My point is we can not always allow the “free market” to dictate necessities of life. Food, shelter, healthcare and gas for our cars should be available to all at affordable prices.

  • Comm_reply
    adn11 11/08/2009 4:58am

    zachUT2006, very good that you’re pointing these out!

  • Comm_reply
    icrackem 11/08/2009 7:48am

    This bill is not about affordable healthcare. It is additional taxes and government intrusion on our freedoms. This bill requires all of us to buy a product, or face a 2.5% income tax penalty. This will not decrease the cost of health care. Right now, I can choose to buy, or not to buy health insurance. If I don’t buy, I accept responsibility for my own health. I will take better care of myself as a result. If I buy health insurance, I decide how much insurance I can afford, and what VALUE it provides me and my family. Just like I can choose to buy a new car, or decide to maintain my old clunker (hmm, who’s paying for that program). Healthcare is expensive because it is focused on disease rather than wellness. If our nation ate healthier foods, exercised more often, and quit health depleting habits, this entire subject would be moot. Instead of forcing the U.S. Citizens to buy health insurance, put those trillions towards something useful like wellness education.

  • Comm_reply
    tallgacutie 11/09/2009 5:48am

    ZachUT2006, You are incorrect! I suggest you go back to school and learn your history. It is apparent that you are being ignorant or are just uneducated. You need to study the Constitution and it DOES NOT give the government to mandate health care! It does not give the government the right to take away basic freedoms and health care is a freedom that you have. The constitution also give you the right to get your lazy but up and work, earn a living, save your money, buy a home, be a productive part of society. Quit relying on the government to provide for you. It is just another form of slavery to keep people complacent instead of pushing personal responsibility. Work and pay for your own health care kiddo!

  • Comm_reply
    PrincessPi 11/09/2009 5:29pm

    Good for you! We work and we save during good times so that we have money during bad times. We pay our mortgage because we bought a small house we could afford. We pay our health care because we plan ahead for bad times.
    In our state, we have no state income tax, we have the largest growth, the smallest unemployment, people are moving here in droves all because we are a responsible state. I hope that if this bill ever becomes law, Texas secedes on Constitutional reasons. Liberals will then be illegals and we don’t like illegals. This bill, if you study it and Constitutional law, you know that this bill trashes the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th amendments and also section 6 of the Constitution. Washington treats it like trash and Obama said that the Constitution is fundamentally flawed because it is not FAIR! LIFE IS NOT FAIR! Grow up people!

  • Comm_reply
    nlb99 11/11/2009 3:35pm

    Texas DOES need to secede! Obama says healthcare reform is not a tax….As per Wikipedia

    “A tax is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution, exacted pursuant to legislative authority” and is “any contribution imposed by government whether under the name of toll, tribute, tallage, gabel, impost, duty, custom, excise, subsidy, aid, supply, or other name. When taxes are not fully paid, civil penalties (such as fines or forfeiture) or criminal penalties (such as incarceration)may be imposed on the non-paying entity or individual.”

    Since I have been unable to pull up the bill for the last 3 days, I cannot confirm this for myself, but supposedly it says the fine for not getting the insurance is $100,000 and 1 year in jail or $250,000 and 5 years in jail. I personally find this hard to believe since they would have to build new jails all over the country just for insurance dodgers.

  • Comm_reply
    LeMat 11/08/2009 5:19am
    Link Reply
    + -1

    I have it backwards, do I? Please educate me as to where in the Constitution this heretofore unknown reversal in powers occurs. I suppose that would actually require you READ the document.

    The tenth amendment holds all powers not SPECIFICALLY endowed to the Federal Government as reserved to the States or the people. Healthcare obviously never appears in this document, and is therefore yet another power-grab by a corrupt and out of control National Government (as they can no longer truly be called Fedral).

    Most of those inflated prices are the direct result of market manipulation by the Government. If you want cheap gas, why do we import from half way around the world instead of drilling locally? Why do we have an unconstitutional corporate central bank controlling our money supply? Why does Wall Street get rich while main-street suffers? You think Government is the solution?

    Government was the cause!

  • Comm_reply
    highnoon 11/08/2009 9:21am

    What an idiotic post. First, by your definition, getting a drivers license, car insurance, requiring home insurance, hurricane insurance, etc….would all be against the law. How about building roads? Is that providing for the general “welfare” and providing healthcare is not? What about Social Security, is that treason too? How about Medicare…..should we jail our Congress for passing that.

    You should move away from civilization, hunt rabbits for stew just pass away when you get cancer that you can’t afford. Just silly….

  • Comm_reply
    LeMat 11/08/2009 10:15am

    You do NOT need a drivers license to drive a car, but once you sign the CONTRACT to get one you agree to play by their rules. Is Medicare illegal? Absolutely! It is nothing more than a Madoffian ponzi-scheme perpetrated by our own government, and completely unsustainable. Building roads, as I have already stated, is within their constitutional purview unless said roads are for private use only. Social Security is a contract scheme as well, one which you can thankfully choose to opt out of. It does however remain outside of their rightful powers and is thus a breach of their oath.

    Perhaps you should read more about your rights and the restrictions on government? Bellicose ignorance is hardly the way to win a reasoned argument.

  • Comm_reply
    jasonmchristos 11/08/2009 11:23pm

    @ zachUT2006 I think there is no problem with congress “promoting the general welfare” that would be constitutional, but this bill goes beyond promotion and becomes mandated forced welfare. Because if you choose not to participate you are fined and imprisoned. The last thing we need is more prison legislation. It is not enumerated in the Bill of Rights to have health care, you cant just go around spouting that it is. If you would like this to be a constitutional right the proper way to do it would be to introduce a constitutional amendment stating that all citizens have the right to health care.

  • Comm_reply
    PrincessPi 11/09/2009 5:53pm

    You are absolutely right! And Americans are the most charitable people in the world. We help each other in times of need. I know I do and other people have helped me. I found a bill to introduce an amendment to the Constitution that will guarantee HOUSES to everyone as a right. How crazy is this? What bothers me is the arm twisting, the threat of prison, the taking of our propery without due process (fees, fines, taxes, penalties, punishemnts, regulations) in this bill. And now they want to MAKE you pay for insurance for your CHILD defined as up to 27 years old. WHAT? That is force. That is coercion. And where are they going to put all these people? Let out the murderers and rapists to imprison people without insurance? Here is a good one. As a disabled person,I could be denied coverage, not by insurance companies but by the government plan. So, if I don’t have coverage, I will pay a fine and a tax by the government because the government denied me coverage!! WAKE UP AMERICA!

  • Moderated Comment

  • Comm_reply
    adn11 11/08/2009 5:55am

    You make too many assumptions about the people against your view and you name call too much!! Whether the insurance companies are over-regulated or not, facts are that many American people died because of denied coverages, many families goes bankrupt because lack of health coverage due to preexisting conditions and many many executives in these industries get rich leaving companies fold and job losses, not because they were working hard for the premiums covering the insured, but because they were “cherry picking” with improper business practices, frauds and wastes.

  • Comm_reply
    adn11 11/08/2009 5:56am
    Link Reply
    + -1

    …Cont.: How do you justify these? Or do you think that many American families deserve to have they members dies or to go bankrupt because they have preexisting conditions and/or that the insurance industry practices are just and equitable???? Were these insurance companies exempted from the anti-trust the whole time?

    Health care was entrusted to the corporates with responsibility, and where are we now?? They had their opportunity were they not?? Yet, America was still behind many many and many other nations. People get sicker, health care costs keep rising and corporate frauds and wastes are piling!!

  • Comm_reply
    jasonmchristos 11/09/2009 12:10am

    @ adn11 i’m not trying to justify neglect of your neighbor by being uncaring. it disgusts me also that some people are neglected. however the vast majority of people are cared for.

    The issue with this bill is the force by threat of imprisonment. I do not deny that the health care costs have much room for improvement. However , it has been said that you get what you pay for and the USA has the most advanced health care in the world, people come from all over the world to get advanced treatment here. The issue once again is the threat of force by imprisonment. These uninsured street gangsters do not deserve to get coverage at the expense of your liberty. No one does for that matter.

    I do not condone infringing on the liberty of others. I’m sure there could be other answers besides revoking freedom and liberty.

    My first suggestion is why not let a public option be public non-profit. Instead of government mandated and forced. I see this as just another way to put people in prison.

  • Comm_reply
    tallgacutie 11/09/2009 5:57am

    Adn11, you are repeating lies and rumors. Under the current legislation, no one including illegals are denied health care in any hospital or doctors office and certainly no one has died because they were denied coverage. They may not have the treatment they “wanted”, but when the government is deciding the treatments no one will get the treatments they “want.” Just look at what the English Officials and Canadian Officials are saying about government health care. Wake UP! This is not good for the country and for the people!
    Get your information straight and quit disposing lies that you hear on TV. You would do good to go and get yourself a proper education and learn the facts!

  • Comm_reply
    akapatrick 11/09/2009 3:07am

    Many people died because they got sick. It is not the governments job to heal people. The governments role starts at the state level. When states cannot act because of powers that can only be addressed at the federal level, then the federal government is compelled to take action on behalf of the states. I have heard no one state that they died because there does not exist a government healthcare option.

  • Comm_reply
    akapatrick 11/09/2009 3:07am

    The number one reason is the implementation of a preexisting condition clause that causes people to be denied healthcare insurance that others are regularly enrolled. This is seen by most as a profit driven denial of benefits for uses that define why people pay into the insurance in the first place. This can be addressed by the federal government and should. If you remove this issue by legislating against it, then what is left. What is left is how many poor can not afford health insurance.

  • Comm_reply
    akapatrick 11/09/2009 3:08am

    We live in a country where even the poorest of us, are wealthy by the standards of a huge part of the worlds people, yet we complain that we are entitled to more. Health insurance has been a benefit to the employed, and should remain as such. How many more programs can we create to enslave people to welfare? Have you ever known someone who has to decide to take an entry level position, knowing they are giving up more in government proceeds to stay unemployed? My own mother died never being able to take a raise at her job, because she would have lost her medicare benefits. How many more people will die afraid to get a job or improve themselves, because they will lose government benefits under this new and evolving healthcare bill. It enslaves the poor of this country, and needs to stop.

  • Comm_reply
    PrincessPi 11/09/2009 5:34pm

    What has not been publicized at all is that the Health Insurance Trade Industry Board met 3 MONTHS AGO and decided that ALL health insurance companies would DROP the pre-existing condition clause. And they did! So, the media, the White House, the president, and Congress are lying to us. Sometimes I watch TV and end up SCREAMING at the tv at these liars. (I am not a member of any Health Care company, in fact I am a disabled police officer so I KNOW about pre-existing condition rules and health care) WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!

  • Comm_reply
    PrincessPi 11/09/2009 5:38pm

    Yes, and remember this! The Federal government is an “AGENT” of the states.
    That means it is the employee of the states. What employer is told what to do by their employees? States have the rights and the people have the rights and the Federal Government is there to do 17 enumerated things, like the Navy and that is all. Everything else is up to the states! PEOPLE! OPEN A BOOK AND TURN OFF THE MAIN STREAM MEDIA!!

  • samsdad02 11/08/2009 12:27am

    name one successful government program, one that does what it says, comes in at the projected cost, isn’t, loaded with pork and corruption. bet you can’t.

  • Comm_reply
    adn11 11/08/2009 5:22am
    Link Reply
    + -3

    No programs are perfect nor are failure! We the people can push the government to amend some to make it better. Say, do you think Medicaid is successful?? Do you think it’s a failure?? Many seniors will definitely take you on that!!! In fact many seniors were recently fighting hard against the reform just because they were misled to believe their Medicaid will be cut.

  • Comm_reply
    LeMat 11/08/2009 5:46am

    It amazes me how people who write poorly expect their arguments to carry weight. Medical prices were much, MUCH lower before Government got involved in medicine and malpractice suits became the norm. Prescription drugs are over regulated by the FDA and those companies pass all the costs on to us: the consumer.

    If you remove the Government from the free market you would see prices crash. So what if a CEO makes a ludicrous amount of money? He didn’t start his own business to remain poor! The Government is the enabler of big business because big business gets them re-elected. Have you noticed there aren’t many small businesses in this country anymore? Government regulated them all to death! That’s why your prices are so high! No small business is there to compete with the corporate super powers and drive prices down!

    Government: the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

  • Comm_reply
    adn11 11/08/2009 6:08am
    Link Reply
    + -2

    You have it all twisted!!

  • Comm_reply
    LeMat 11/08/2009 6:16am

    Oh, I’m sure.

    I have it all twisted ’round the wrong way? Where did all the small business go? When did it happen and why? How is it that we suddenly need to ask the government for permission to do what used to be our RIGHT to do (open a business, change our property, get MARRIED)? When did our RIGHTS become PRIVILEGES for the Government to mete out or take away?

    What you continue to FAIL to understand is that the Government is not your friend — not your family — and certainly not your keeper. YOU are the keeper of the Government, and if you allow it to get too fat it will EAT you. Government is brute force, and “like fire it makes a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

  • Comm_reply
    LeMat 11/08/2009 6:24am

    (cont’d from above)
    You can sit here and cry about all the people not getting healthcare, and that is your RIGHT. Just as it is my right to beat you over the head with a sledgehammer named ‘Logic’ until you finally submit to the facts of history.

    The Government, unlike us, has NO RIGHTS. It is the Government which has PRIVILEGES We The People grant it. Once they step out of the bounds of those privileges, they are BREAKING THE LAW and should be put on trial for their actions. Until you realize that your Government is acting with no regard for our most fundamental laws, you will never understand the real problem here.

    The fire that is Government is burning out of control. Of course it wants more fuel, and healthcare is what it wants to consume next. Stop putting fuel on the fire and help us put it out before there is nothing left to save!

  • Comm_reply
    adn11 11/08/2009 6:46am
    Link Reply
    + -2

    You beat nobody!

    I like your ‘logic’, though. If you put the word “CORPORATE” in place of ‘Government’ then you might get it straight!!!

  • Comm_reply
    LeMat 11/08/2009 7:15am

    Yes, the Government IS the tool of the corporations. This makes your argument stronger HOW exactly? You are essentially admitting that the super-corps make Government policy… which is exactly my point. Government is corrupt!

    For some reason, however, you seem to be blind to this blatant fact. How this continues to elude you is beyond me. Perhaps you should re-read my posts and stop martyring yourself to the state.

Due to the archiving of this blog, comment posting has been disabled.