Archived Story

Historic health care bill narrowly passes in House

Published 9:47am Monday, March 22, 2010

Niles Daily Star

Historic legislation was approved by the Democratic-controlled Congress Sunday night that would extend health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans.

The bill, previously passed by the Senate on Dec. 24, went through the House with a 219-212 vote Sunday night with a package of changes that passed 220-211. Debate in the Senate should begin Tuesday. If the bill is approved without changes, it will head straight to President Obama’s desk.

The health care legislation, which has been Obama’s top priority for several months, is expected to sign the bill this week.

The $940 billion health care overhaul will require nearly every American to be insured or pay a fine with an exemption for low-income people. The legislation would also extend coverage to 32 million Americans without it, and if fully phased in, coverage would include 95 percent of all those eligible under age 65.

The Republican representatives unanimously opposed the bill.

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, believes the legislation does not reflect the will of the people and voted against the measure.

“Folks are scared,” Upton said during floor debate on Sunday. “Debt is at historic levels. Spending is out of control. We will spend a trillion dollars of the next ten years for just six years of benefits…We can do better. And we should.”

Gov. Jennifer Granholm called the health care reform “historic.”

“After decades of failed attempts, this legislation will give Michigan families and businesses more control over their own health care, will give them the security and stability that come with health care coverage, and will reduce overall health care costs,” Granholm said in a statement. “No state has needed reform more than Michigan, and I applaud and thank the members of our congressional delegation who voted for this legislation.”

The reform also would expand the Medicaid insurance program to require coverage for people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Adults without children would get coverage beginning in 2014.

The insurance industry would no longer be allowed to place lifetime dollar limits on policies, from denying coverage to children for pre-existing conditions and from canceling policies due to sickness. Parents would be able to keep children on their coverage up to age 26.

The measure also calls for more than $400 billion in taxes over the course of 10 years, about half of it from a Medicare payroll tax on individuals with incomes over $200,000 and couples over $250,000.

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