President Signs Health Care Reform Bill

President Signs Health Care Reform Bill

Senate already working on 'fix-it' measure.

President Obama has signed into law the health insurance reform bill that was approved by the Senate in December and the House Sunday. Vice President Joe Biden declared it a historic day and credited the President with turning the right of every American to have access to decent health care into a reality for the first time in American history. The President said the bill will set reforms in motion that generations of Americans have fought for, marched for and hungered to see.

According to President Obama some of the most needed reforms will take effect immediately. Among other things he said that tax credits will be offered to about four million small businessmen and women to help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees this year; that this year tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions and the parents of children who have a preexisting condition will be able to purchase the coverage they need; and that insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care.

To fully implement many of the reforms the President said it would take four years, but once the reform is implemented he says uninsured people and small businesses will be able to purchase affordable, quality insurance. He said the legislation will lower costs for families and businesses and lower the federal deficit by over a trillion dollars in the next two decades.

During the signing of the bill President Obama noted that the Senate still has a last round of improvements to make on the legislation, but expressed confidence they would do so quickly. That effort started just hours later as Senators convened to begin consideration of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. With Republicans preparing a series of procedural challenges and several amendments the floor battle will likely take days.

Any changes to the bill prior to Senate passage, whether by amendment or successful point of order, would require another House vote on the measure. According to Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., a couple of minor provisions could get deleted on points of order. House leaders are confident they could pass the reconciliation legislation a second time without difficulty.

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