The US House of Representatives gave final approval to a sweeping healthcare overhaul on Sunday, expanding insurance coverage to nearly all Americans and handing President Barack Obama a landmark victory.
House Democrats approved the most dramatic health policy changes in four decades. The vote sends the bill, already passed by the Senate, to Obama to sign into law.
The overhaul will extend health cover to 32 million Americans, expand the government health plan for the poor, impose new taxes on the wealthy and bar insurance practices such as refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.
“This legislation will not fix everything that ails our healthcare system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction. This is what change looks like,” Obama said during a late-night appearance at the White House.
The healthcare revamp would require most Americans to have health coverage, give subsidies to help lower-income workers pay for coverage and create exchanges where the uninsured can shop for plans.
Major provisions such as subsidies would not kick in until 2014, but many of the insurance reforms like barring companies from dropping coverage for the sick will begin in the first year.