Divided House passes health care reform

Decades of effort culminated in the bill’s passage.
Protesters and supporters of health care reform line the streets outside the Renaissance Grand Hotel on Wednesday, March 10, in response to President Barack Obama's visit to St. Louis. Obama's key piece of domestic legislation, health care reform, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday night by a 219-212 vote.

After months of debate, President Barack Obama plans to sign his signature piece of domestic legislation into law Tuesday. Sunday night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 219-212. Obama made the legislation a major issue of his presidency thus far, and Democrats see its passage as a victory.

“In the end, what this day represents is another stone firmly laid in the foundation of the American Dream,” Obama said after the bill passed.

The vote

The House vote on the nearly 2,500-page bill was divided along party lines. No Republicans voted for the measure along with 34 Democrats who voted against the bill, including Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton. In a news release, Skelton said health care reform is necessary, but more incremental changes are needed.

“At the end of the day, each of these proposals still could have serious unintended consequences for those with private insurance and could negatively impact rural health care,” he said in the release.

Craig LaBee, organizer of the Buffalo-based Show Me Tea Party, said he was undecided on his position on the legislation but didn’t approve of the process Congress used.

“I think it will be brought down by the way they passed it and the method they used to craft it,” LaBee said.

Sunday, the House also passed a series of revisions to the Senate bill. In a letter from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Nevada Democrat wrote the Senate would use reconciliation to approve the House’s changes.

Reconciliation is a process in which Congress can pass a piece of legislation with a simple majority of at least 51 votes. When this process is used, a bill cannot be defeated using a filibuster because the amount of total debate on it is capped at 20 hours, according to the House Rules Committee Web site. But this time limit is often exceeded, the Web site states.

MU College Republicans Chairman Brett Dinkins said it would be interesting to see how Americans react new legislation.

“Considering how it's been called an ‘overhaul’ of the health care system, for it to pass by seven votes means the issue isn't totally decided,” he said.

The bill

According to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, the bill passed Sunday, along with its reconciliation provisions, would cut $143 billion from the federal deficit in the next decade. A news release from the CBO also stated 32 million more people would receive health insurance under this law by 2019.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., who represents Columbia, along with other areas, said he supports improving the nation’s health care system, but this bill is too costly.

“This bill still puts government in control of health care, still spends money we don’t have, still raises taxes and still slashes benefits to the elderly,” Luetkemeyer said.

For college students, one immediate provision of the health care bill will kick in once it is signed by President Barack Obama.

According to the bill, adult, unmarried children can stay as a dependent on their parent’s plan until they are 26 years old. Most children have to leave their parents’ plan once they turn 19 or after they graduate high school or college, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

MU College Democrats President Amanda Shelton said those changes this bill creates represent a victory for Americans.

“We must continue to improve upon the progress that we've made to maintain the change that we've created to work for better services for the American people," she said.

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