U.S. Senate passes landmark health care reform bill
Thursday, December 24, 2009
The United States Senate has approved a hard-fought measure to overhaul the . The vote will be followed by the difficult process of reconciling the Senate-passed bill with one approved by the House of Representatives, in order to get a final measure to President Barack Obama.
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"The yeas are 60, the nays are 39. H.R. 3590 as amended, the Joe Biden announced. Senator of Kentucky did not show up for the vote leading to the 39 nays. Mike Reynard, a spokesman for Bunning, said in an e-mail that "The senator had family commitments."is passed," Vice President
The vice president presided over the Senate at the time of the vote in his role as President of the United States Senate.
At an estimated $87 billion, the measure would expand health insurance coverage to about 30 million more Americans currently without it, and create new private insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, to expand choice.
And, like the slightly more expensive measure passed by the House of Representatives, the, it would end a practice by private insurance companies of denying coverage to individuals with existing health problems.
Both the Senate and House measures would require nearly all Americans to purchase some form of insurance, while lower-income Americans would receive help from federal government subsidies.
|This is a victory because we have affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life in our great country is a right and not merely a privilege for the select few.|
—Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader
Speaking to reporters, Reid and others hailed the vote as a victory and a major step toward providing millions more Americans with access to health care. "This is a victory because we have affirmed that the ability to live a healthy life in our great country is a right and not merely a privilege for the select few," Reid said.
Reid and others including West Virginia, paid tribute to Senator , who died this past August after spending decades of his career in the Senate pursuing health care reform., the 92-year-old Democrat from
When casting his vote Byrd said, "Mr. President, this is for my friend Ted Kennedy. Aye."
Michigan, who has been a long time advocate of health care reform and who sponsored and introduced the House version of the health care reform bill., the widow of Senator Kennedy, watched the proceedings from the Senate visitor's gallery, as did Representative , Democrat from
In the final hours of debate on the Senate bill, Republicans asserted it would be ineffective and add sharply to the U.S. budget deficit.
|Mr. President, this is for my friend Ted Kennedy. Aye.|
—Senator Robert Byrd
Senator Alabama said of the bill, "This legislation may have a great vision, it may have a great idea about trying to make the system work better. But it does not. These are huge costs [and] it's not financially sound.", Republican from
vowed to defeat the bill when the Senate reconvenes in January saying, "This fight is not over. This fight is long from over. My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law."
Senator Maine who helped approved the 's version of health care reform, the , earlier in the year and who remarked she may not vote on the final bill, said, "I was extremely disappointed," noting that when the Democrats reached their needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, "there was zero opportunity to amend the bill or modify it, and Democrats had no incentive to reach across the aisle.", a moderate Republican from
Ahead are difficult negotiations with the House of Representatives to craft a final bill President Obama would sign into law. These talks, which will formally get under way early in the new year, will take place amid anger among many liberal House Democrats the Senate bill failed to contain a government-run.
|This fight is not over. This fight is long from over. My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law.|
—Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader
Members of thehave vowed to fight to keep this public option in any final legislation that emerges, along with other provisions they say are needed to protect lower and middle-income Americans and hold insurance companies accountable.
In a statement, the Democratic chairmen of three key House committees said while there are clear differences between House and Senate bills, both will bring fundamental health care coverage to millions who are currently uninsured.
Obama administration officials have been quoted as saying they anticipate negotiations on a final bill would not be complete until after the President'sin January, and could slip even later into the new year.
|If passed, this will be the most important piece of social policy since the Social Security Act in the 1930s, and the most important reform of our health care system since Medicare passed in the 1960s.|
—President Barack Obama
President Obama issued a statement to the press in the State Dining Room in the White House saying that the vote is "legislation that brings us toward the end of a nearly century-long struggle to reform America's health care system."
He also pointed out the bill's strengths, noting, "The reform bill that passed the Senate this morning, like the House bill, includes the toughest measures ever taken to hold the insurance industry accountable. Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny you coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition. They will no longer be able to drop your coverage when you get sick. No longer will you have to pay unlimited amounts out of your own pocket for the treatments you need. And you'll be able to appeal unfair decisions by insurance companies to an independent party."
He also noted how historic the bill is, saying, "If passed, this will be the most important piece of social policy since thein the 1930s, and the most important reform of our health care system since passed in the 1960s."
Obama noted the potential social impact, saying, "It's the impact reform will have on Americans who no longer have to go without a checkup or prescriptions that they need because they can’t afford them; on families who no longer have to worry that a single illness will send them into financial ruin; and on businesses that will no longer face exorbitant insurance rates that hamper their competitiveness."
Obama afterwards made phone calls to various Senators and other people, including Victoria Kennedy and David Turner of Arkansas. Mr. Turner had his health insurance rescinded in January of last year, after his insurance company went back into his record and alleged that he failed to disclose his full medical record at the time he applied for coverage. Turner was First Lady Michelle Obama's guest during her husband's on health care reform back in September.
- Dan Robinson. "US Senate Approves Historic Health Care Reform Bill}" — , December 24, 2009
- Shailagh Murray and Debbi Wilgoren. "Senate approves landmark health-care bill" — , December 24, 2009
- Robert Pear. "Senate Passes Health Care Overhaul Bill" — , December 24, 2009
- Foon Rhee. "Senate passes health care bill" — , December 24, 2009
- "Remarks by the President on Senate Passage of Health Insurance Reform" — , December 24, 2009
- "Phone Calls Made by President Obama after Senate Passage of Health Insurance Reform" — , December 24, 2009
- James R. Carroll. "Jim Bunning only Senator to miss historic health care vote" — , December 24, 2009