“The bill is passed!” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) after a late night session on Capitol Hill this past Sunday. Sweeping health care reform passed the House of Representatives and was signed into law on March 23 by Pres. Barack Obama.
Reform passed in a tight 219 – 212 vote after nearly a yearlong debate on the issue. No Republicans voted for the bill in addition to 34 Democrats who voted against.
According to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Republicans believe the reform is a government take over of the health care industry and it will be a “job killer.”
“Given this situation, the only responsible course of action is to scrap this job-killing monstrosity, and start over [with] sensible, step-by-step health care reform. The American people are watching, and they will be heard,” Boehner said.
Democrats, on the other hand, maintain that they have improved the quality of life for millions of American families and that this legislation is as historic as the creation of the Social Security and Medicare programs. Obama declared that, because of this reform, 32 million more Americans will now have access to affordable health insurance.
In an address following the passage of the bill, Obama told the American people, “We pushed back on the undue influence of special interests. We didn’t give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things.”
According to Sara Schiavoni, a political science professor at John Carroll University, “It comes down to real ideological differences between the two parties. The size of government and the role it plays is one of the main distinctions.”
The newly signed reform is a reconciled version of the bill the Senate passed in a party-line vote on Dec. 24 of last year. The bill is mostly the same except for the additions made by Obama at the end of last month.
After Obama signed it, the reconciled bill was sent back to the Senate to vote on the changes.
The Democrats need 51 votes to pass the bill. However, according to CNN, Republicans have indicated that they will do whatever they can to stop it. NBC News Senate Producer, Ken Strickland, said there are 19 procedural ways that Republicans can kill the bill. He admits that although a lot of them are not likely, it is possible. This includes a parliamentary procedure that allows for an unlimited amount of amendments and challenges to the reconciled bill before the final vote. This could stall the process for some time.
Before Sunday’s vote, Pelosi told CNN that she expects the reconciled bill to receive the Senate’s backing.
Also, in response to the passage of the bill, 10 states are planning to file a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of its stipulation that requires people to purchase health insurance.
According to CNN, the attorneys general from Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington filed the suit after Obama signed the bill on Tuesday.
“I think the states have an interesting argument. They bring up real questions about Federalism and what the federal government can mandate of the states,” said Schiavoni.
Though they claim the suits are not politically motivated, all 10 attorneys general are Republicans.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said in a news conference on Monday, “There’s no way we can do what’s required in this bill and still provide for education, for foster care, for the incarceration of prisoners, all the other things that are in this bill.”
According to the Congressional Budget Office, health care reform will cost a total a $940 billion over 10 years, however, it will reduce the federal deficit by $143 billion in that time.