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House Gives Final Approval to Historic Health Care Bill

March 21, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

On a party-line vote of 219-212, the House of Representatives has passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that fulfills President Obama’s goals of reducing health care costs, increasing choices for consumers and guaranteeing access to quality, affordable insurance for all Americans. The bill has already passed the Senate and will be sent to President Obama immediately to be signed into law.

“At a time when pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics,” President Obama said after the vote. “This is what change looks like.”

The bill is widely considered the biggest domestic policy achievement by any President or session of Congress since Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965 into law 45 years ago, creating Medicare.

Contrary to the attacks of some conservatives, this bill is in no way a “government take-over” of the health care system (citation: Politifact’s “Top Five Lies About Reform”). It keeps the fundamental system of private insurance in place and, in fact, will strengthen the already-enormous health care industry by delivering them millions of new customers.

What is so historic about this legislation is that, for the first time ever in U.S. history, it codifies an assumption that all people should have health insurance, regardless of age, income, health or employment status. Over the next ten years, it is estimated to achieve coverage of 95% of the population through a combination of cost controls, regulations, government subsidies, an expansion of government insurance, and mandates.

(Above, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, accompanied by members of the House Dem. caucus, walks to the U.S. Capitol for today’s votes carrying the gavel that was used when Medicare was passed by the House in the 1960s.)

UPDATE: The House also approved the Reconciliation Act of 2010, which contains about 150 pages of “fixes” to the health care bill, by a vote of 220-211. The reconciliation bill now goes to the Senate. According to reports, they will continue debating and voting on it Tuesday.

Here are some of the key components of how the health care bill works.

Insurance Regulations — The bill would outlaw a number of the most abusive practices from insurance companies. Most prominently, they would no longer be allowed to deny coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions. The bill would also ban them from rescinding coverage to customers who get sick, eliminate lifetime and annual limits on benefits, cap how much money from premiums insurers can spend on things like profit, administrative costs and advertising, and require insurers to cover preventative services and immunizations.

Individual Mandate — Starting in 2014, all Americans would be required to have some form of health insurance. Uninsured individuals would be penalized with a tax of $95 in 2014, $325 in 2015 and $695 in 2016 and beyond. Religious groups that are “conscientiously opposed” to insurance, like the Amish and Old Order Mennonites, would be exempt from this requirement. Members of non-profit “Health Care Sharing Ministries” would also be exempt.

Affordability Credits — New tax credits would be available for people with incomes between 133 and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to help them afford insurance coverage. The average subsidy for people receiving government assistance would be $6,000 per year.

Medicaid Expansion — The biggest government expansion in the bill would be in Medicaid. All individuals earning less than 133 percent of FPL would get free insurance through Medicaid. The CBO has estimated that this expansion will cover 16 million Americans by 2019.

Health Care Exchanges — All individuals buying insurance on their own and businesses searching for a plan to offer their employees, would do their shopping on new state-based “exchanges.” The exchanges would, essentially, be websites displaying the various plans that are available with prices and services laid out side-by-side in a standard format. Think Travelocity.com for health insurance. States would be allowed to join together to form regional exchanges under the bill.

Obviously there is more to the bill than this, but these are the basic provision for understanding the mechanics in the bill to expand insurance coverage. The House Whip, Rep. James Clyburn [D, SC-6], has posted tons more information on the bill at his website.

The House will now take up the budget reconciliation bill containing 153 pages of fixes and tweaks to the health care bill. Read here to find out what you can expect. We’ll update as soon as it passes.

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Comments

  • justamick 03/21/2010 6:02pm

    I look forward to the voter backlash both this November and in 2012.

  • Comm_reply
    spender 03/21/2010 9:19pm
    Link Reply
    + -1

    Yeah, when people’s insurance stops getting canceled for no reason, and hoards of demons don’t actually end up bursting out of the ground to begin harvesting people’s souls (or whatever it is conservatives were claiming), I’m sure the voters will be pissed.

    The problem with propaganda is that it doesn’t stick too well when it’s easily negated by casual, daily observation. If it hadn’t passed then you’d be right, but now everyone has 7 months to watch the world not ending before the midterm elections. By 2012 everyone will have forgotten.

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 03/22/2010 3:59am

    Typical left wing radical thinking that you throw money at an issue and it will fix itself.

    It’s amazing how the left will demean the people as believing rhetoric and being too stupid to know what it is in the bill that their representatives just crammed down our throats.

    The American voters are not children, so stop treating them like they are.

    If you want socialism, then go to Europe. The Swedes have free health care, sounds like a good start for you.

  • Comm_reply
    spender 03/22/2010 11:21am
    Link Reply
    + -1

    Uh huh. When you’re still making this argument in 6 months, after observable reality hasn’t demonstrated the whole world falling apart, I’m sure you won’t be demeaning people at all.

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 03/22/2010 12:56pm

    I’m not demeaning people, in fact, you are. As I stipulated before voters are not idiots and are not people who like to be treated like children.

    Congress, and people like you think that they can stipulate socioeconomic policies for the rest of us. You’re wrong. Most Americans value self-reliance and non-interference over all. The rest think that they are owed something, much like yourself.

    Stop acting like the people who disagree with you are hateful bile filled jerks that only care about themselves. The vast majority of us WELCOME a lot of what this bill outlines, where they have the biggest problem is the price tag on it. Government mandates and subsidies are the biggest issues. Not to mention no guarantees in controlling skyrocketing costs of premiums.

    I think your handle “spender” pretty much sums up your very skewed and flawed view of how the US should handle it’s economics. It’s rather sad.

  • Comm_reply
    ppss29 03/22/2010 3:34pm

    It is people such as yourself that I would LOVE to engage in a conversation about all aspects of what is in the bill, when specific issues become active, etc.. because with all of your “verbiage” I doubt you have even read the entire bill. . and that is my entertainment for the night. Thanks. . love reading your garbage

  • Comm_reply
    justamick 03/23/2010 5:15am

    I pitty you and the false reality you find yourself in.

    Regulation of insurnace industry does not require $940 billion dollars or government mandates.

    If you actually paid attention to what was being said, you’d actually learn a valuable lesson… Most Americans, including myself, welcome the further regulation of the insurance industry, just not at the price tag that is currently associated with it.

    Maybe that’s it though, you cant get beyond the “verbiage”?

  • ACRScout 03/21/2010 6:50pm

    Just one more reason to vote agains the Dems in the future, along with the Amnesty that Obama is going to grant later this year, to replenish his Dem voter base.

  • zegota 03/21/2010 7:04pm

    Wooo! Big thanks to Speaker Pelosi and President Obama for making this happen! Here’s to moving America into the modern era!

  • larrynr 03/21/2010 7:55pm

    Lyndon Johnson signed Social Security into law 45 years ago? Try FDR 80 years ago.
    Since you write most of your blogs from other people’s writings, maybe you should find an accurate source of US legislative history to draw from.

  • donnyshaw 03/21/2010 8:11pm

    OpenCongress Staff

    OK, I wrote, “Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act into law 45 years ago.” I meant “Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1964 into law 45 years ago.”

    The Social Security Act of 1965, which was signed into law by LBJ, created Medicare. I’ll add the “of 1965” to the post at your recommendation. It’s an understandable error — no need to be so rude.

  • nmeagent 03/21/2010 8:41pm

    Here’s to taking a running leap down the proverbial slippery slope.

  • teachermom 03/22/2010 4:45pm

    As a result of the passing of this joke of a Healthcare bill, my 83 year old father was just informed that medicare won’t pay for his medical, and his 73 year old lady friend who has serious medical issues, also is no longer covered. Word is that medicare/medicade is putting the stops on their coverage because they are going to lose big time. These older folks are on limited income, and can’t afford to paid the outrageous medicinal costs. So I guess O’Bama is going to kill off our older generation. And this is called fair?

  • Comm_reply
    LucasFoxx 03/22/2010 5:32pm
    Link Reply
    + -2

    Your father has been lied to. That’s unfair.

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