Widgets Magazine

Health Care reform passes

After a year of debate and controversy, health care reform legislation passed in its final form through two bills late this month. The passage will enact one of the largest pieces of social legislation in the last several decades.

The legislation will end the denial of coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, expand the number of people covered by Medicaid, provide subsidies for purchasing insurance for lower-income families, penalize not purchasing insurance and create new taxes, in addition to a number of other measures.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the legislation will, in the next ten years, cost $940 billion, but will also reduce the deficit by $130 billion. The office also anticipates that the reform will cover more than 30 million Americans.

Reform passed without the support of a single Republican in either the House or the Senate. Republicans have been vocal in their opposition to the Democratic legislation since early 2009. Some Democrats also opposed all or part of the legislation in both the House and the Senate.

Democratic legislators passed reform through two bills: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the main bill, and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which amended perceived problems with the bill and also included student loan reform legislation.

The main bill passed the Senate in December by a vote of 60-39, and passed the House this month 219-212. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act passed the House of Representatives in two votes, owing to a minor change: the first 220-211, the second 220-207. The Senate passed the bill 56-43.

President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on Mar. 24 at a ceremony that emphasized the historical significance of the legislation.

“And we have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care,” he said.

-Eric Messinger