The House health care bill would:
• Require most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fine.
• Expand health care coverage to 36 million more people over the next decade.
• Require employers with payrolls above $500,000 to provide insurance to their employees or pay a fine.
• Prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions.
• End premium disparities between men and women.
• Impose a 5.4 percent income tax surcharge on income above $500,000 annually for individuals and above $1 million annually for households.
• Establish a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers beginning in 2013.
• Cost $1.2 trillion over 10 years.
• Cut Medicare spending by more than $400 billion over 10 years.
The 220-215 vote cleared the way for the Senate to begin debate on the issue that has come to overshadow all others in Congress.
A triumphant Speaker Nancy Pelosi likened the legislation to the passage of Social Security in 1935 and Medicare 30 years later.
In the run-up to a final vote, conservatives from the two political parties joined forces to impose tough new restrictions on abortion coverage in insurance policies to be sold to many individuals and small groups. They prevailed on a roll call of 240-194.
The legislation would require most Americans to carry insurance and provide federal subsidies to those who otherwise could not afford it. Large companies would have to offer coverage to their employees. Both consumers and companies would be slapped with penalties if they defied the government's mandates.
The bill drew the votes of 219 Democrats and Rep. Joseph Cao, a first-term Republican who holds an overwhelmingly Democratic seat in New Orleans. Opposed were 176 Republicans and 39 Democrats.
The bill is projected to expand coverage to 36 million uninsured, resulting in 96 percent of the nation's eligible population having insurance.
The bill was estimated to reduce federal deficits by about $104 billion over a decade, although it lacked two of the key cost-cutting provisions under consideration in the Senate, and its longer-term impact on government red ink was far from clear.
(The above information comes from The Oregonian.)
A special thanks to Rep. Peter DeFazio for voting yes on this bill. Pete DeFazio represents the Fourth Congressional District of Oregon. He is well loved in our neck of the woods.