[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] passed a health care reform bill [text, PDF] on Thursday in a 60 - 39 vote [roll call vote] that split down party lines. The legislation would expand affordable access to health care to more than 30 million Americans and overhaul the private health insurance system [Washington Post report]. Senate Republicans have vowed to continue to fight and amend the bill, which they claim is too expensive and violates personal rights [NYT report] by requiring people to have health insurance. President Barack Obama stated [press release]:
What makes it so important is not just its cost savings or its deficit reductions. It's the impact reform will have on Americans who no longer have to go without a checkup or prescriptions that they need because they can't afford them, on families who no longer have to worry that a single illness will send them into financial ruin, and on businesses that will no longer face exorbitant insurance rates that hamper their competitiveness. It's the difference reform will make in the lives of the American people.
Obama is expected to sign the bill early in the new year, after it has been reconciled with a similar House bill.
Health care reform [JURIST news archive] has been a top priority of the Obama administration for several months. Earlier this week, the Senate voted to stop debate [JURIST report] on the bill. Last month, the US House of Representatives [official website] approved [JURIST report] their reform bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act [HR 3962 materials]. The House legislation has an estimated cost of around $1 trillon [WSJ report] over 10 years, includes a public option, and would extend coverage to nearly 96 percent of Americans. Like the Senate bill, the House version prohibits discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.