The United States House of Representatives made history tonight in a vote to pass the Democratic health care bill HR 3962. The bill that's been the center of much partisan controversy and some hold responsible for a large part of the divide between conservatives and liberals is now passed through with a "YEA" vote of 220. Though only needing 218 to pass. 215 Representatives voted "NAY".
One Republican representative voted in favor of the landmark legislation. The Representative Joseph Cao of the 2nd district of Louisiana who offers a copy of HR 3962 titled "Affordable Health Care for America Act" on his web site.
Through out the day the members of the House argued in favor and against the bill. A particular amendment offered would not allow Federal Money to support abortion. Opposition Republicans joined forces with anti-abortion Democrats to pass the amendment to the health care legislation on a vote of 240-194.
The amendment angered liberal Democrats who support abortion rights, but its passage is expected to help win support for the legislation from moderate Democrats, many of whom had refused to support the bill without strengthening language that bars using federal subsidies to fund abortions.
"Today, as we all know, is an historic moment for our nation and for American families," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor hours before the vote.
Since Campaigning for President Barack Obama has made a promise to the American people that sensible health care reform would be top priority of his administration. Before a joint session of Congress he professed "I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last." As it seems now he's keeping good on that promise.
The bill includes fundamental changes to the American health care system - creating a public health insurance option to compete with private insurers and for the first time, requiring employers to offer health insurance.
The bill would expand coverage to 36 million uninsured Americans through a mix of subsidies and incentives and mandates on individuals and businesses. Under the plan, individuals would have to secure insurance through their employers or through an insurance exchange established by the bill. Authors set aside subsidies to help lower- and middle-income Americans who don't qualify for Medicaid pay for that insurance.
In an effort to lower premiums across the marketplace, House Democrats would create a government insurance option to compete with private insurers that would operate in the exchange. And businesses with more than $500,000 in annual payroll would be required to cover their employees or pay a penalty of as much as 8 percent of the combined salaries.
Statement of President Barack Obama on House Passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act:
"Tonight, in an historic vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would finally make real the promise of quality, affordable health care for the American people."
"The Affordable Health Care for America Act is a piece of legislation that will provide stability and security for Americans who have insurance; quality affordable options for those who don’t; and bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses, and the government while strengthening the financial health of Medicare. And it is legislation that is fully paid for and will reduce our long-term federal deficit."
"Thanks to the hard work of the House, we are just two steps away from achieving health insurance reform in America. Now the United States Senate must follow suit and pass its version of the legislation. I am absolutely confident it will, and I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year."