$940 billion overhaul would give 32 million more Americans access to health insurance; Obama signature expected in day or so
MONDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- After a year of fierce partisan debate, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives late Sunday night passed the landmark $940 billion health-care reform bill, which would extend health insurance coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions and cut the federal deficit by an estimated $138 billion over the next decade.
The bill, the most sweeping social legislation since the Great Society programs of the 1960s and the centerpiece of the first year of President Barack Obama's administration, also represents a milestone -- near universal health insurance -- that has eluded presidents since Theodore Roosevelt more than a century ago.
The final tally, which adhered almost entirely to party lines, was 219 "yes" votes and 212 "no" votes. Not one Republican voted for the measure, which was a vote on a similar bill already approved by the Senate.
"This is what change looks like," Obama said near midnight in a televised address that evoked his 2008 presidential campaign promise of "change we can believe in," the Associated Press reported.
"We proved that this government -- a government of the people and by the people -- still works for the people."
Many Democrats who supported the bill called it a long overdue achievement that will provide quality health care to virtually all Americans.
"Health care isn't only a civil right, it's a moral issue," Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., said before the vote. He said his late father, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., had worked his whole career for nationwide health care, as had President John F. Kennedy before him, the AP reported.
Republicans criticized the bill as an unwarrant
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