Health care for all is about to become law of the land.
On Sunday evening, the House of Representatives voted for the Senate's health care bill--a bill that would make affordable insurance available to nearly everybody, strengthen coverage for those who have it, and nudge American medicine in the direction of higher quality and lower costs. The final tally was 219 to 212, with the vast majority of Democrats voting for it and every single Republican opposing it. Now the bill goes to the White House for President Obama's signature, which will most likely happen on Tuesday.
Democrats nailed down the final votes they needed on Sunday afternoon, once a group of members opposed to abortion rights, led by Michigan’s Bart Stupak, indicated they would support the bill in exchange for an agreement to apply existing abortion funding restrictions to the new insurance exchanges. As of this writing, the House was still debating a set of amendments to the Senate bill. Those amendments, which would change both the subsidy and tax levels in the bill, are expected to pass. After that, they must still go to the Senate for consideration there.
The Democrats' victory represents the culmination of a quest that stretches back to the early 20th Century, when medicine first entered the modern era and became more expensive than many Americans could afford. It also represents a remarkable victory for the Democrats, who seemed on the verge of losing this fight just a few weeks ago, when the special Senate election in Massachusetts deprived them of the power to break a filibuster.
More to come soon. Or maybe tomorrow...