KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Marking ‘A New Season In America,’ Obama Signs Health Bill Into Law


At a White House ceremony this morning, President Barack Obama signed into law the Senate version of health insurance reform.

The Associated Press: The president "signed a historic $938 billion health care overhaul that guarantees coverage for 32 million uninsured Americans and will touch nearly every citizen's life, presiding over the biggest shift in U.S. domestic policy since the 1960s and capping a divisive, yearlong debate that could define the November elections." Obama was joined at the bill signing ceremony by House and Senate Democrats as well as "lesser-known people whose health care struggles have touched the president" (Superville, 3/23).

USA Today: "A jubilant President Obama signed the health care bill into law today, calling its massive expansion of insurance coverage 'reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see.'" Shortly after the president completed his remarks, "Republican attorney generals from 13 states filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn aspects of the new health care law." In addition, "House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, tweeted, 'with the stroke of a pen, President Obama has signed away another share of Americans' freedom. We will take it back'" (Jackson, 3/23).

Los Angeles Times: "Obama, who sought passage of this legislation for more than a year, portrayed it as an achievement on an historic par with the passage of Social Security after the Great Depression and Medicare in the 1960s" (Silva, 3/23).

The New York Times: "Despite the president's signature, the legislative work on the measure is not over, nor is the intense partisan fight over it. Republicans are already vowing to repeal the bill. And the legislative battle will flare anew in the Senate on Tuesday, where lawmakers are set to take up a package of changes to the measure under the parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation" (Stolberg, 3/23).

Politico: "The bill Obama signed Tuesday is the single largest expansion of the government's role in health care since Medicare – a fact that cheers Democrats who say health insurance is now a right, not a privilege, in this country but provoked staunch resistance from Republicans." The bill is "setting up a clash of political philosophies that the voters will get to judge in midterm elections come November. Democrats hope it will cement their majorities in both houses and Republicans believe it will dislodge them in the House." The focus has now shifted to the Senate, where the upper chamber will begin consideration today of a bill that "fixes" the Senate legislation (Lee, 3/23).

The Hill: "Senate Democrats are still working on a package of adjustments to the legislation Obama signed into law on Tuesday. The Senate hopes to vote on that package by the end of the week, when it would then be sent to Obama for his signature. ... Though liberals in his party have criticized the president for not pushing stronger reform, Democrats largely reacted with a mixture of relief and exuberance to the passage of a bill that was pronounced dead on more than one occasion." Democrats are also hopeful that they can convince voters before the November elections that the legislation controversy will ease (Zimmermann, 3/23).

Related links:

- Transcript: President Obama At Health Reform Bill Signing Ceremony (The White House)

- Video highlights of signing ceremony

- Kaiser Health News Health Reform Resource Links

- Summary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Democratic Policy Committee, U.S. Senate)

- Summary of Coverage Provisions of the Senate bill (Kaiser Family Foundation)

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