The House of Representatives just passed, by a vote of 220-207, a package of “reconciliation” improvements to the historic health reform package signed by the President earlier this week.
This was after the Senate passed the package–after hours of brushing back GOP amendments in what was known as vote-a-rama–by 56-41 earlier today.
It now goes to President Obama for his signature. The work on this bill is done.
The work on health reform is just beginning. As I wrote in The New Republic’s The Treatment this week:
Instead of being concentrated in Congress for just over a year, health reform will spur frenetic activity over the next five years across the nation, at both the federal and state level, in venues both legislative and regulatory.
The work that needs to be done at the federal level, especially at the Department of Health and Human Services, is immense. But the much of the action will also shift to the states, who have traditionally taken the lead on two central components of health reform: insurance regulation, and the administration of public coverage programs. With federal standards and guidance, each state has a role in everything from expanding and streamlining its Medicaid programs, to setting up the new exchanges which will provide a new, regulated market for consumers to purchase coverage. In essence, the bill spurs 50 different health reforms.
My colleague Richard Kirsch, National Campaign Manager, Health Care for America Now, sounds a similar note and the end of his statement today:
“It’s impossible to overstate the breadth of what our nation’s achieved with the passage of comprehensive health care reform. We have closed the book on decades of struggle to make good, affordable health care a right – and not exclusively a privilege – for America’s families.
We have created a vehicle by which to eliminate insurance industry abuse, to make health care more affordable for working families and small businesses, to close the Medicare “doughnut hole” for seniors, to help young adults maintain coverage as they strike out on their own, and to bring all of us the peace of mind and security of knowing we are no longer just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy.
With the closing of this volume, we also prepare to open another. We will need to continue to hold lawmakers and big insurance accountable and make sure we implement reform in way that truly achieves good, affordable health care for all.”