History was made Sunday when the U.S. House of Representatives approved the long-debated health care reform and passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The passage of the bill concludes the nearly year-long attempt by President Obama and Democratic lawmakers to reform the nation’s $2.5 trillion health care system.
Republican representatives remained unanimously opposed to the bill and were joined by 34 Democrats in voting against it. The final vote was 219-212.
What will the bill do?
The bill will extend medical coverage and health insurance to 32 million uninsured Americans. Major coverage will begin in 2014.
Gabe Laney, senior in the nursing program, said he believes the bill is going to help Americans by “providing the resources needed to increase the quality of life.”
“Being in the health care field I see firsthand the struggles individuals can go through due to lack of insurance,” said Laney. “It’s disappointing that we’ve lived in a country that has denied people in need of care for so long. We deserve access to health care as a right based on our citizenship, not based on our pocketbook.”
The Congressional Budget Office projects the bill will cost around $940 billion over the next decade, but will reduce the federal deficit by $130 billion in the first 10 years and cut another $1.2 trillion in the second 10 years.
Sophomore pre-pharmacy student Paige Dant is skeptical about how the government expects to afford the $940 billion health care bill and wants to know where the money will come from.
Her answer: “The taxpayer. Our country is so far in debt already, there is no way they can afford this [bill] without making our taxes skyrocket.”
Other aspects of the bill include that by 2014 health insurance is mandatory for everyone, which they can purchase from the government, employers, or on their own. If they do not, they face a fine. It also includes expansion of the Medicaid program, a new Medicare tax on upper class families, and children may choose to stay on their parent’s medical plans until the age of 26.
Dant disagrees with a further tax increase on upper income individuals and families and believes it is unfair to tax someone more for having a higher income.
She said, “Those people worked hard to be successful and the people making those kinds of salaries are the ones who take care of us, doctors, lawyers, etc.”
President Obama agreed to sign an executive order banning the use of federal money to fund abortions. He did so to appease several anti-abortion Democrats who were going to oppose the bill.
The House also passed the Reconciliation Act of 2010, which contained roughly 150 “fixes” to the health care bill.
An overhaul of the student loan industry was also tied to the health care bill. The student loan reform will eliminate private lenders from the system.
The bill was expected to get Obama’s signature yesterday. The Senate was also expected to begin debate on the “fixes” the House passed. The Senate is expected to use a parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation to pass the House amendments to the bill.
Republicans are looking to challenge this procedure. Reconciliation requires only a simple majority to pass legislation rather than a two-thirds majority, which Democrats lost following Senator Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts. n