BREAKING NEWS: At about 8:15 PST, the House passed the health care reform bill, 220 to 215. One Republican voted for it, and 39 Democrats voted against it.
By David Lightman / McClatchy Newspapers / November 7, 2009
WASHINGTON — With a personal push from President Barack Obama, the House of Representatives Saturday inched closer to passing historic health care legislation that would guarantee virtually all Americans access to care.
Obama met for half an hour with House Democrats as the all-day debate was starting Saturday morning, and compared the health care effort to Democrats’ championing of Social Security and Medicare.
“Now is the time to finish the job,” Obama said later in brief remarks in the White House Rose Garden.
Democratic leaders were hoping for a final vote on the bill Saturday night, after a last-minute deal with abortion opponents would make it clear federal funds could not be used to pay for elective abortions.
The House bill would make the biggest changes in the nation’s health care system since Medicare was created 44 years ago to provide coverage for seniors and the disabled.
Passage of the bill by the House would be the first crucial step to overhauling health care; the Senate hopes to act by the end of the year, and the two Houses would then craft a compromise that would need approval of each chamber.
The House measure would create a government-run health-care plan to compete with the private sector, bar insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and set up health care “exchanges,” or marketplaces where consumers could easily shop for coverage.
The changes are expected to mean that by 2019, 96 percent of eligible Americans would have health insurance, up from the current 83 percent.
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