Senate Passes Health Care Reform on Christmas Eve
It was the first on record for the senate to vote on Christmas Eve and finally declare the end of a long grueling battle for these lawmakers to meet Majority Leader Harry Reid's goal of passing a health bill before Christmas. The bill that passed is an 871 billion dollar health care reform bill.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell spoke on the Senate floor before the vote took place stating, "This debate was supposed to produce a bill that reformed health care," McConnell said. "Instead, we're left with party-line votes and a couple of sweetheart deals to get it over the finish line."
"This morning isn't the end of the process, it's merely the beginning. We'll continue to build on this success to improve our health system even more," Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said before the vote. "But that process cannot begin unless we start today... There may not be a next time."
Reid also acknowledged that the road that is ahead is going to be a long one. "This is just the beginning," he said. "With Senator Ted Kennedy's booming voice in our ears – with his passion in our hearts – we say, as he said: The work goes on, the cause endures."
The Senate health care bill will end up costing approximately $871 billion over the next 10 years and will be able to offer 31 million Americans who don't have health insurance to be insured. Each and every person will be required by the government to have insurance or pay a fine. Another key point is that Medicaid would be expanded for the poor, and people making up to $88,000 for a family of four would get help from the government to pay for insurance.
President Obama told PBS' Jim Lehrer on Wednesday he is "very satisfied" with the Senate bill, and predicted a smooth road ahead as the House and Senate meet to work out their differences. "You know, what's interesting is, the House version and the Senate version are almost identical." Obama said. More details will begin to emerge on this historical voting session.