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House Democrats Approve Health-Care Reform Bill
Date:3/21/2010

was uncertain as late as Sunday afternoon, with some conservative Democrats withholding their support because of concerns that the bill would allow the use of federal dollars to pay for abortions. When Obama promised to issue an executive order "to ensure that federal funds are not used for abortion services," passage of the bill was all but guaranteed.

The Senate passed its version of health reform legislation in December.

Before a final bill can be sent to Obama for his signature, the Senate must sign off on a package of House-approved changes to the Senate bill. A simple majority vote in the Senate would complete the process, paving the way for Obama's signature.

In the days leading up to the vote, health-care and public policy experts said passage of the bill really boiled down to one simple tenet: More Americans should have access to health insurance.

"The big impact is the coverage of 31 million uninsured individuals, and that includes about 15 million people with incomes below 133 percent of the poverty line [through an expansion of Medicaid]," Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund in New York City, said last week. "Basically, it makes a big dent in the number of uninsured and underinsured. That's far and away the biggest impact."

Thomas R. Oliver, associate director for health policy at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, described the legislation as "a dramatic effort to really get at the core questions of accessibility and affordability of coverage."

Though stating that the legislative effort "is a sweeping change," Oliver also acknowledged that the bill, once passed, would be "disappointing to many who believe that the most constructive thing that we need to do as a nation is to bring all Americans into adequate, basic insurance coverage."

He does, however, believe the bill is a step toward that goal.

As it stands, the bill would place penalti
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