This morning in the East Room of the White House, President Barack Obama signed into law the health care reform bill, formally entitled the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Although this bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Sunday, there is still one more "fix-it" bill, a companion piece of legislation that will be debated, amended and voted on by the Senate in the next few days.
The new law will have some provisions that do not take effect until 2014, and some that will take affect this year. According to the Associated Press report, the law will provide near universal health care coverage to a nation where, despite its prosperity, tens of millions of citizens are uninsured. CNN reports that among the provisions that will take affect this year are the small business tax credits to aid smaller companies in providing health coverage for their employees. Also in affect this year are the provisions preventing insurance companies from dropping the sick from their plans and denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions or to those with children who have pre-existing conditions.
The companion legislation is expected to face strong opposition from Senate Republicans, but is also expected to pass, as the reconciliation process it is undergoing requires only a simple majority of votes (51).
According to The New York Times, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the law will cost the government about $938 billion over 10 years, but also estimates the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion over a decade.
CNN reports President Obama said he is signing the health reform bill on behalf of several people, including his mother - "who argued with insurance companies even as she battled cancer in her final days."
"We are not a nation that does what's easy. It's not who we are. It's not how we got here. We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities," the President said.