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March 29, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Historic US healthcare victory

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It’s a big fucking deal

The US Healthcare Reform Bill was signed into law last week in a historic White House ceremony following months of intense debate.

The success of United States President Barack Obama’s Healthcare Reform Bill signifies an important victory for the president, who has pushed for healthcare reform since taking office in January 2009.

The significance of the bill’s success was summed up in a comment whispered to Obama by Vice-President Joe Biden during the bill’s signing:

“This is a big fucking deal.”

The bill, intended to provide near universal healthcare for Americans, will see the healthcare system undergo a US$940 billion transformation, heralding the biggest revamp of the system since the introduction of Medicaid in the 1960s.

The legislation was passed 219 votes to 212, after Obama granted concessions to six anti-abortion Democrats by agreeing to issue an executive order banning the funding of abortions with taxpayer dollars.

Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak says that the ban on federal funding of abortion would “protect the sanctity of life in healthcare reform”.

Speaking at the White House after the vote on Sunday night, Obama celebrated the victory.

“Today’s vote answers the prayers of every American who has hoped deeply for something to be done about a healthcare system that works for insurance companies, but not for ordinary people.

“Today’s vote is not a victory for any one party; it’s a victory for the American people, and it’s a victory for common sense.”

Republican Senator John McCain warned Democrats that they had not heard the last of the healthcare debate, with Republicans stressing an intention to repeal the bill should they win back control of Congress in November.

In an interview with ABC Television, he said “The American people are very angry. They don’t like it and we’re going to repeal this.”

In his closing remarks, House Minority Leader John Boehner summed up the Republican’s opposition to the bill.

“Today we’re standing here looking at a healthcare bill that no one in this body believes is satisfactory.”

Republican Eric Cantor further warned that the bill contains “oppressive mandates and taxes”, and would cause untold damage “to the best healthcare system in the world”.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking just before the vote, said that the “present health insurance system in our country is unsustainable. We simply cannot afford it.

“The best action we can take on behalf of America’s family budgets and on behalf of the federal budget is to pass healthcare reform.”

She also reminded the House of the late Senator Edward Kennedy’s comment in a letter to Obama before he passed away.

“Senator Kennedy wrote that access to healthcare was the great unfinished business of our society. That is, until today.”

Although he maintains the “bill was never about universal healthcare”, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore noted the importance of the victory in an interview with Democracy Now.

“Certainly, had the vote gone down to defeat and the Republicans had won, I would say that it would probably have been near impossible for President Obama to get anything through for the rest of this Congress.”

A critic of the bill, Moore has expressed concerns over the mandatory provision that will force millions to purchase private health insurance.

“The larger picture here is that the private insurance companies are still the ones in charge. They’re still going to call the shots, and if anything, they’ve just been given another big handout by the government by guaranteeing customers.”

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