Congress Finishes Health Care Reform–For Good This Time

March 25, 2010 5:06 p.m.

They’re done. For good, this time.

Tonight, the House took Congress’ final health care vote, when it passed a reconciliation bill fixing problems with the reforms that President Obama signed into law on Tuesday. The final tally was 220-207. The changes will take effect as soon as Obama signs this sidecar package into law, which could come as early as tomorrow.

Tonight’s vote is a capstone to the Democrats’ difficult fight over health care–one which took its toll on Obama’s young administration, and at times threatened to tear the entire party apart.By passing this secondary bill, Democrats have promised to remove some of the more controversial provisions in the comprehensive health care law, while making others more popular. The reconciliation bill nullifies the controversial Nebraska Medicaid deal, which was added to health care legislation by the Senate back in December. It also will close the Medicare prescription drug donut hole, and bolster subsidies to uninsured working and middle-class Americans, who will be required to purchase coverage when reform takes full effect in 2014.

After Tuesday’s signing ceremony, Democrats pivoted swiftly to aggressively defend their achievement. Today, Obama himself practically dared Republicans to run on the promise of repealing these laws ahead of the 2010 election. That aggressive campaign will continue in the weeks ahead. But it’s a politics game now. The legislating is done. Congress will now recess for two weeks, and return unburdened from the heavy demands of passing health care reform for the first time in a year.

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