After 17 months of debate, compromises, negotiations, threats, more compromises and general partisan politics at play, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in a 219-212 vote by House Democrats late last night. Shortly after the vote took place, President Obama said in his speech, “This legislation will not fix everything that ails our health care system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction.”
Not one Republican voted in favor of the health care reform bill and thirty-four Democrats joined them in their vote. It seems to be the only way that this bill passed in the House last night is because of Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak, who has been more of a speaker of and for a group of anti-abortion Democrats, had announced that they had been satisfied by the language used in the bill regarding abortion and would then vote in support of the health care reform bill. While Bart Stupak and his group of like-minded, anti-choice Democrats may be satisfied with the language used in the bill and may also be satisfied with their so-called progress in the form of President Obama signing an executive order reaffirming that the bill would maintain a “consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion,” the signing of this order means very little and is actually being called more of a symbolic move on the president’s part. The reason for this is because the language residing within the health care reform bill does nothing to change the current federal policy, which we know as the Hyde Amendment. While the Hyde Amendment has been in effect since 1976 and in short, restricts federal funding for abortion, it must be passed every year and is not set in stone.
Democrats who supported this health care reform bill have been outspoken about the amount of pride they take in the fact that it has passed, comparing this bill to the establishment of Medicare and Social Security. After the vote, Nancy Pelosi also stated, “Today we have the opportunity to complete the great unfinished business of our country.”
The health care bill, said to come at a cost of $938 billion over 10 years and will provide coverage to an estimated 32 million American citizens who are currently uninsured and uninsurable, will be signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday.
While the price tag of the bill is stunning to see in type and has rubbed many Americans the wrong way, according to the budget office, these new costs would be more than offset by savings in Medicare and by new taxes and fees–a tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health plans and a tax on the investment income of the most affluent Americans. The bill is also being said to reduce federal budget deficits by $143 billion in the next 10 years and by $1 trillion within its second decade, which was what persuaded some of the more fiscally conservative Democrats to support this reform bill.
While the fact that the health care reform bill passed is all over the news and being talked about on all of the major news channels, a lot of American people still do not know exactly what is inside of this bill and what they have to look out for in the coming months and years in regards to their health insurance and what they do when they or their families become sick and need a doctor. This health care bill will significantly expand Medicaid in order for the government to be able to ensure coverage for Americans earning up to the poverty line, approximately just over $29,000 for a family of four.
It also cuts Medicare spending by about $500 billion through reductions in the Medicare Advantage program, although also take note that Democratic leaders have ensured the American people that these reductions will not affect service of those currently receiving Medicare.
The bill will also bike Medicare payroll takes on families who earn more than $250,000 annually. Starting in 2013, a 40% tax on insurance companies providing expensive, often-quoted “Cadillac” health plans that are valued at more than $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families will be enforced. Because many Democrats oppose taxing such policies, due to the fact that it would hurt union members, a compromise bill has been proposed with a new threshold for imposing the Cadillac tax, making taxable plans those plans valued at over $10,2000 for individuals and $27,500 for families. If this compromise bill were to become law, it would then not kick in until 2018.
While you may be hearing a great deal more about this bill and what it means for Americans and their families, the above points are the very core, key details of the bill. For more information on what this bill means for you and your family now, check out our follow-up article, Ten Things Health Care Reform Will Do for You, Now.