Health care bill passes

    After more than a year of legislative labor, and a long day of debate yesterday, Democrats in the House passed a sweeping package of health care changes. WHYY’s health and science reporter Kerry Grens spoke with some local Representatives after the vote.

    After more than a year of legislative labor, and a long day of debate yesterday, Democrats in the House passed a sweeping package of health care changes. WHYY’s health and science reporter Kerry Grens spoke with some local Representatives after the vote.
    President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior staff, react in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, as the House passes the health care reform bill, March 21, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    Congress last night passed a health care bill intended to expand health insurance to 30 million more Americans. Democratic Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz says, with that expansion comes a greater need to use health care dollars wisely. She’s asking the region’s medical industry to help carry out the provisions of the legislation.

    Schwartz: In Pennsylvania, certainly in my district in southeast Pennsylvania, the work that will be done by our hospitals, out teaching hospitals, our health care providers, we’re calling on to work smarter and more efficiently to provide that high quality care.

    Schwartz says that being part of such an important health care vote was remarkable.

    Schwartz: I’ve been working for many many years to make sure that Americans have access to affordable meaningful health coverage and health care, and this brings American to the point where we can say it’s going to happen. And it’s great.

    But from Schwartz’s neighboring district in Pennsylvania, Republican Jim Gerlach opposed the bill. He called the vote one of the biggest in the history of Congress.

    Gerlach: But the consequences I’m fearing are not going to be as pleasant or as positive as its proponents have said it’s going to be.

    All 219 votes in favor of the bill came from Democrats. Thirty Democrats also voted against the bill, including John Adler of South Jersey, and Jason Atlmire and Tim Holden of Pennsylvania.

    Gerlach: For the fact that here you have one of the major votes in the history of Congress passing on just a partisan basis I don’t think bodes well for the bill itself or for this entire process.

    Gerlach says people will end up paying higher taxes, and the medical device industry in southeast Pennsylvania will suffer. The bill’s supporters say it will not only increase access, but also reduce the federal deficit.

    One of the bill’s main elements is a requirement, four years from now, that all Americans have health insurance. The federal government will provide subsidies and tax breaks to assist individuals and businesses in buying coverage. The bill also tightens restrictions on insurance companies. They cannot deny people because of pre-existing conditions, or drop coverage after a customer gets sick.

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