With a few dozen Democrats jumping ship and the support of just one Republican, the House passed a historic health reform bill by just five votes. The measure would expand coverage to most Americans through individual and employer mandates, outlaw some of the insurance companies’ more unsavory tactics and provide a weakened public insurance option.

The House bill would cost more than President Barack Obama’s arbitrary limit of $900 billion, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says it would ultimately reduce the deficit over 10 years — another of the president’s requirements.

Now it’s the Senate’s turn to pass its own vision of reform. The two measures would be combined in conference and then head back to be voted into law, or not, by both chambers.

It’s easy to be cynical about all this. The House measure, more ambitious than what they’re talking about in the Senate, doesn’t do a whole lot to control runaway health care costs. And while the insurance companies would have to play a more honest game of pool, they would be flush with millions of new paying customers. Then there’s the public insurance option, a nice gesture but really so stingy it would be met with riots in civilized Europe.

Still, Clintoncare never got out of committee. This is undeniably a historic moment, warts and all. — PZS


The House voted 220-215 today to approve the measure, which would cost more than $1 trillion over 10 years. Just one Republican, Representative Joseph Cao of Louisiana, backed the plan, and 39 Democrats broke ranks to oppose it.

Lawmakers hailed the step as a historic follow-on to the 1965 creation of the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled. They said the bill would cover 36 million uninsured Americans and curb costs. New rules would prevent insurers from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions, and seniors would get help obtaining preventive care and medicine.

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