House Passes Historic $940 Billion Health Care Reform

President Barack Obama finally received his wish for a more expansive health care system with the passing of health care reform on Sunday night. With a slight majority of 219-212, the House of Representatives passed the historic $940 billion reform bill.

The Bill Has Traveled a Long Road

The health care reform bill has traveled a long road in Congress with the House and Senate, and saw Democrats and Republicans within each disagreeing on just about every part of it along the way. However, the Senate was able to get a version of the bill passed last week, resulting in it hitting the steps of the House on Sunday.

With a stroke of luck and a few extra Democrats in agreement regarding the abortion portion of the bill, it passed with enough votes to send it along and essentially change the face of health care and health insurance.

So What Is Actually In the Bill?

Now that the bill has passed and looks to be the final rule on what will essentially affect millions of Americans, lets take a quick look at some of whats involved in this health care reform bill:

  • No one turned down for coverage: One of the major perks of the bill is that no insurer will be able to turn down an applicant for coverage because they have a preexisting condition.
  • Medicaid expansion: The bill will also expand Medicaid, now giving subsidies to families who make as much as $88,000 per year.
  • Mandatory insurance with penalties: For those who dont purchase some type of health insurance, they will be required to pay a fee topping out at $695 a year or 2.5 percent of income. Also, employers would be required to provide affordable insurance to employees or face a penalty of up to $3,000 per worker.
  • Children on policies longer: Children would be able to stay on their parents insurance policies until their 26th birthday.
  • No lifetime limits on coverage: Insurers would not be able to place any lifetime limits on coverage.

In addition to the above adjustments, the bill will include a 2.35 percent Medicare tax for individuals with high incomes (making more than $200,000), which is projected to raise $210 billion over 10 years and help decrease the deficit by as much as $143 billion.

There would also be an excise tax for insurers who offer high-cost health insurance policies.

Some of these changes would be expected to take place in the next few months while others arent due until 2014. Insurers warn that for those items due for change in the coming months, they may not be able to work them at as quickly as proposed.

Some Still Fighting the Bill

Like in every other stage of the process, it was not easy to get this bill passed. Even after the final votes were counted on Sunday night, Republicans called a motion to amend the language on abortion in the bill, also known as the Stupak Amendment, which was essentially a stalling technique.

Ironically, Bart Stupak, an anti-abortion Democratic member of the House, himself voted against his own language in the amendment to effectively pass the bill. But because this battle was lost doesnt mean some are not determined to continue in the war.

Business communities have come forward opposing the bill with arguments that legislation is too broad and comes with too many taxes. Also, insurers, which have seen the heaviest regulations, are less than pleased about the new set of rules they must endure.

However, many hospitals, doctors, drug makers and senior groups like AARP backhealth care reform because they believe it will reduce the growth of health care costs over time. And most important, it will make sure that no one has to go without care.

Reconciliation Bill, Student Loan Reform to Get Voted On In Senate

Even though the bill passed on Sunday, there is still another vote that needs to take place this week. The reconciliation package, which basically is a package of fixes meant to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills, was passed by the House earlier on Sunday with a 220-211 vote. Now it is headed to Senate for a final vote.

In that package is the student loan overhaul that will abruptly remove private lenders from the student lending equation, instead giving only the government the power to administer student loans.

If the reconciliation bill passes in Senate, the next step will be passing it all to Obamas desk for signature, marking one of the biggest moments weve seen in health care and health insurance in decades.