WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Twenty-one hours after the U.S. Senate did its part to steer the country clear of the so-called fiscal cliff, the House of Representatives settled on an 11th-hour agreement late Tuesday night that averted widespread tax increases and spending cuts that were set to kick in Jan. 1.
But the House vote was in doubt much of the day and into Tuesday evening, with many Republicans opposing the tax increases contained in the bill while favoring steeper spending cuts to further reduce the nation's debt.
The bill will now go on to President Barack Obama who is expected to quickly sign it into law.
"This shouldn't be the model for how to do things around here," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said just after 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, The New York Times reported. "But I think we can say we've done some good for the country."
McConnell worked with Vice President Joseph Biden to secure the Senate's 89-8 vote, a rare show of bipartisanship in Washington. He recommended that the entire Congress act quickly to pass the measure and "continue to work on finding smarter ways to cut spending" in the coming months, the Associated Press reported.
The House vote was more fractured, with Democrats voting for the bill by an overwhelming 172-16 margin while Republicans opposed it 151-85, the AP reported.
The bill prevents a 27 percent cut in fees paid to doctors who treat Medicare patients. It also blocks middle-class taxes from going up but raises taxes on wealthier Americans. And it delays legislatively mandated spending cuts for two months, among other measures.
Failure to reach agreement on heading off spending cuts could have had a significant effect on health care in the United States, according to Kaiser Health News.
For instance, Medicare providers would have seen an $11 billion
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