U.S. Senate passes landmark healthcare bill
www.chinaview.cn 2009-12-24 20:12:44   Print

 U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (C) speaks during a news conference in Washington Dec. 24, 2009. The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a landmark healthcare bill, which will expand healthcare insurance coverage to 94 percent of the Americans and could usher in the biggest change in U.S. healthcare in decades. (Xinhua/Zhang Yan)

U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (C) speaks during a news conference in Washington Dec. 24, 2009. The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a landmark healthcare bill, which will expand healthcare insurance coverage to 94 percent of the Americans and could usher in the biggest change in U.S. healthcare in decades. (Xinhua/Zhang Yan)
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    WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a landmark healthcare bill, which will expand healthcare insurance coverage to 94 percent of the Americans and could usher in the biggest change in U.S. healthcare policy in decades.

    The legislation was passed along strict party lines in a rare early morning vote.

    The bill, approved 60-39, would deliver on a long-promised Democratic goal of extending healthcare coverage to nearly every American. It would also represent the biggest expansion of the federal safety net since the 1965 creation of Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.

U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (C) prepares to address a news conference in Washington Dec. 24, 2009. The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a landmark healthcare bill, which will expand healthcare insurance coverage to 94 percent of the Americans and could usher in the biggest change in U.S. healthcare in decades. (Xinhua/Zhang Yan)

U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (C) prepares to address a news conference in Washington Dec. 24, 2009. The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a landmark healthcare bill, which will expand healthcare insurance coverage to 94 percent of the Americans and could usher in the biggest change in U.S. healthcare in decades. (Xinhua/Zhang Yan)
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    Vice President Joe Biden presided as 58 Democrats and two independents voted "yes" while Republicans unanimously voted "no."

    Healthcare reform has been the top priority on President Barack Obama's domestic agenda. But finalizing the details of the legislation has been a lengthy and complex process.

    After its passage, the bill will still have to be reconciled with a more expansive bill passed by the House of Representatives before being sent to Obama for signature, which will not happen until late next month.

    "This morning is not the end of that process. It is merely the beginning. We will continue to build on this success, to improve our health system even more, and to further ease the terrible burdens on American families and businesses," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, upon the passage of the bill, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    "But that process cannot begin unless we start today. The American people and the American economy cannot afford for us to wait for next time, because there may not be a next time," said Reid.

    He warned that Americans could not wait until the country becomes the only developed nation where you would die for lack of health insurance, pointing out the fact that roughly 45 million Americans were still without healthcare insurance as of this day.

    Thursday's vote was a victory for Obama, who is going to make a victory note on the vote later in the morning, but it also reflected lingering divisions among Democrats and the fierce opposition of Republicans.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said: "The most obvious problem with the bill in front of us is that it doesn't do what it was supposed to do."

    "This debate was supposed to produce a bill that reformed healthcare in America. Instead, we're left with party line votes in the middle of the night, a couple of sweetheart deals to get it over the finish line, and a public that's outraged," he said.

    "This fight isn't over. My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law," said McConnell.

    The final vote came after more than three weeks of rancorous debate and a series of hard-fought procedural victories beginning with a late-night vote on Sunday and culminating with Thursday's roll call at 7 a.m. (1200 GMT).

    The 10-year 871-billion-U.S. dollar measure would expand Medicaid -- the federal-state health program for the poor -- and create new tax subsidies to help lower- and middle-income families comply with a mandate to purchase insurance.

    The Congressional Budget Office estimated the legislation would reduce the budget deficit by 132 billion dollars over the next decade, through a combination of tax increases on the healthcare sector and spending cuts, which largely fall on Medicare payments to healthcare providers.

U.S. healthcare legislation still faces uncertain prospect

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- The landmark healthcare reform bill, proposed by President Barrack Obama since he came into office, is moving toward the finish line in the U.S. Senate with a crucial test vote in the wee hours of Monday and a final vote later in the week.

    However, sharp differences between the Senate's and the House's versions of the bill, lack of solid public support, and some unsolved thorny issues still hinder the bill from forging into a legislation.  Full story

Obama hails looming passage of health care bill at Senate

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during his speech at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on Dec. 9, 2009. Obama announced here on Wednesday that the administration would award nearly 600 million dollars in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) for the construction and renovation projects at 85 coummunity health centers nationwide. (Xinhua/Zhang Yan)

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during his speech at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on Dec. 9, 2009. Obama announced here on Wednesday that the administration would award nearly 600 million dollars in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) for the construction and renovation projects at 85 coummunity health centers nationwide. (Xinhua File Photo/Zhang Yan)
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    WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday hailed an agreement reached by the 60 Democratic and Democratic-leaned senators on a health care reform bill that was expected to be soon passed at the whole floor.

    In an unscheduled speech at the White House, Obama praised the compromise made among Senate Democrats that cleared the way for U.S. Senate passage of a sweeping health care overhaul. Full story

U.S. Senate votes to move health care reform bill forward

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate voted on Saturday night to move an overhaul health care reform bill forward, removing the first procedural hurdle for the bill to be passed in the chamber.

    Supported by all of the 60 Democratic and independent senators, the bill was voted to be in a full-scale debate in the Senate starting Nov. 30 after this year's Thanksgiving holiday.  Full story

Backgrounder: Key differences in Senate, House versions of healthcare bill

Backgrounder: U.S. healthcare reform glossary

Editor: Li Xianzhi
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