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Health Care: It Passes, Now More Votes?

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 23, 2010 6:55 AM

As the whole wide world knows, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives managed to pass the health care bill by a majority of 210-212 on Sunday. The bill includes provisions to mandate the purchase of health insurance, and to prevent companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. MSNBC reports that the law would extend coverage to 32 million Americans currently without health insurance. So what happens now?

To start with, at least one more vote. As MSNBC reports, the bill passed on Sunday was the Senate version of the over-all health care legislation. That bill is expected to be signed into law by the President this week. However, a smaller House "fix-it" bill with some changes was also passed. That bill will have to get approval from the Senate, where Republicans have vowed to try to stop it.

According to further reporting from MSNBC, the fix-it bill will be the legislation undergoing the reconciliation process that has been discussed so widely in the past months. If the Republicans can force even one change during reconciliation, the bill must go back to the house for a second vote as the bill passed by each house must be identical. Only once in the last 22 times the reconciliation process has been used (often by Republicans), has a bill not been changed in the Senate and thus not required a re-vote by the House.

If a House re-vote is called for, the bill's supporters could be in a difficult position. Senate Republicans can offer any amendments that are reasonably related to the subject of health and finance and could tack on potentially unpopular amendments dealing with Medicare cuts, Medicaid, immigration, and labor to make the yes votes in the House more politically costly for Democrats.

As MSNBC reports, debate on this bill will be limited to 20 hours under reconciliation and only a simple majority, 51 votes, will be required for passage. According to the report, Democrats think there will almost certainly be some changes to this smaller bill, but none that will significantly change the substance or cost of the potential law as written.

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