The largest healthcare overhaul in decades narrowly won approval in the House on Sunday and is set to become law.
The House gave final passage to the Senate’s healthcare package by a vote of 219 to 212. Now it just awaits President Obama’s signature, which is expected to come Tuesday.
No Republican voted for the bill, and 34 Democrats voted against the legislation which says employers will have to provide affordable insurance to workers or pay a penalty.
Of course the bulk of the legislation won’t take effect until 2014.
Shortly after passage, the House voted 220 to 211 on a companion bill meant to make changes to the Senate bill. The companion bill was needed to gain enough support in the House to pass the larger reform package.
That package of changes is now headed for the Senate, which is expected to take it up later this week.
Assuming the Senate ultimately adopts the companion bill, as it said it would, employers can expect to pay a penalty of up to $3,000 per worker for not providing affordable health insurance.
In addition, most Americans will be required to carry health insurance or pay a fee — maxing out at either $695 per year or 2.5% of a person’s income.
To help people afford coverage, subsidies will be given to families making as much as $88,000.
The reform bill would also:
- extend coverage to approximately 32 million Americans (95% would be covered by 2019 compared to the 82% covered today)
- expand Medicaid for the poor
- stop insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with preexisting health conditions
- eliminate lifetime limits on health coverage, and
- allow children to stay on their parents’ policies until their 26th birthday.
Helping push the Senate’s bill over the top was a last-minute promise by Obama to issue an executive order that no money dispensed under the $940 billion bill would help pay for abortions.
Helping pay for the reform package will be a series tax increases and fees would be levied upon a number of industries — including insurers and drug makers.
In addition, families earning more than $250,000 a year will pay a higher Medicare payroll tax, and high-value insurance plans would be hit with a 40% tax starting in 2018.
We’ll keep you posted on the companion bill’s progress.