The U.S. House of Representatives answered “the call of history” put to it by President Obama Saturday and voted 220-215 in favor of the most sweeping expansion of health-care coverage since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid Act of 1965.
House Democrats burst into sustained applause at 11:08 EST as the majority-making 218th vote was cast in favor of the the Affordable Health Care for America Act.
The measure ultimately received the votes of 219 Democrats.
Only one Republican, Louisiana’s Joseph Cao, supported it. (Cao, who represents an overwhelmingly-Democratic district dominated by the city of New Orleans, frequently breaks with the GOP leadership. He was one of the few Republicans who was seriously lobbied by the White House and Democratic leaders in the House, and it worked.)
Thirty-nine Democrats joined 176 Republicans in rejecting reforms that polls suggest are broadly supported by Americans.
A handful of “no” votes came from Democrats who felt that the legislation promoted by the Obama administration and House leaders was an inadequate response to the health care crisis. Among the progressive “no” voters was Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich, a leading proponent of a single-payer “Medicare for All” system that would replace private insurance companies with a public program.
This health care bill continues the redistribution of wealth to Wall Street at the expense of America’s manufacturing and service economies which suffer from costs other countries do not have to bear, especially the cost of health care. America continues to stand out among all industrialized nations for its privatized health care system. As a result, we are less competitive in steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping while other countries subsidize their exports in these areas through socializing the cost of health care.
The reform plan shepherded through the House by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is indeed flawed, as even the speaker acknowledges.
But it dramatically expands options for the tens of millions of Americans who are not currently covered by private insurers.
That was enough for Pelosi, who accepted what was for her a bitter compromise on the issue of abortion in order to secure the votes needed to pass the measure.
Late Saturday night, the speaker announced that her chamber had indeed “made history” with its endorsement of the reform plan.
Epic depictions of the House vote were commonplace Saturday, as Democrats compared their measure with historic legislation of the past.
“This is an historic moment for our nation. House passage of H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, marks the first step toward ensuring health care for all Americans,” said Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, who helped craft the legislation as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “I truly believe that we’ll look back years from now and view the passage of this Act to be as significant as the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935 and the Medicare and Medicaid Act in 1965.”