U.S. Senate Vote On Health Care Reform: New Health Bill Passed
U.S. Senate vote on the health care reform was successful today. The new health care bill was passed on the Christmas Eve with a 60-39 vote. The new health care bill took three weeks of debate and a lot of political wrangling, but today's Senate vote took less than fifteen minutes. The new health care bill becomes a landmark piece of legislature that will cost $871 billion over a decade and is expected to completely overhaul the health care system as Americans know it. Democrats called today's vote a "gift for all Americans," while no Republicans voted, saying the new health care bill will end up being "one of the most widely hated legislation of the decade" that the Republican party will make sure does not become law.
The new health care bill:
- extends health care coverage to include 94% of Americans
- increases Medicare payroll tax on individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000
- offers federal tax subsidies to low-income families that can't afford coverage
- requires individuals to buy insurance from their employers or government with financial penalty for people who do not buy insurance (as much as $750 per person)
- penalizes employers who do not offer affordable insurance plans
- cuts costs from Medicare and reduces budget deficit
- funds abortions (with an option for states to opt out)
- restricts the ability of private insurers to deny coverage to ill individuals or people with pre-existing conditions
- bans lifetime limits on insurance coverage
- does not offer a "public option" (premiums offered by the government - a public rather than private health insurance plan)
- does not cover illegal immigrants
The next step for the new heath care bill passed by the Senate today is to be reconciled with the health care bill previously passed by the House.
A lot of controversy was generated over the so-called "Nebraska exception," as part of which Senator of Nebraska Bel Nelson yielded in on the Health Bill that he previously opposed to get a special treatment for his state. Nelson was the last Democratic holdout, but changed his mind eventually. In exchange, the federal government agreed to cover 100% of Nebraska's health care bill for an indefinite amount of time.