Video: House passes health care overhaul bill

  1. Closed captioning of: House passes health care overhaul bill

    >> begin with nbc's chief white house correspondent, chuck todd . good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning, meredith. the president started this effort on health care just over a year ago on the 44th day of his presidency. now here we are, a year later. here we are, decades when -- after the president and the democratic party made this promise. the process was messy, but we are now one signature away from it becoming law. just before midnight , it was official.

    >> the yays are 220, the nays are 211. the bill is passed.

    >> reporter: with no republicans voting for it, democrats pass the most expansive and ambitious effort to reshape how americans receive and pay for health care .

    >> at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics.

    >> reporter: soon after the vote, president obama , who admitted he was putting his own presidency on the line with health care , basked in the glow of victory.

    >> we didn't give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things .

    >> reporter: following the historic vote, the speaker of the house had an air of satisfaction.

    >> great pride and great humility that we undertook this great act of patriotism.

    >> reporter: a fiery house republican leader , john boehner , attempted to turn the loss into a rallying cry.

    >> can you say it was done openly? with transparency and accountability? without backroom deals and struck behind closed doors , hidden from the people? hell, no, you can't!

    >> reporter: the changes that will become law once the president signs both bills will be phased in over years. some of the immediate changes include insurance companies can no longer drop patients that get sick, providers must offer free preventive care , no caps on lifetime benefits and young adults can stay on their parents' policies until age 26. but the bulk of the changes to the system won't kick in for years, including by 2014 , all americans must have health insurance or pay a fine. also in 2014 , insurance companies will no longer be able to deny adults coverage for pre-existing conditions. the most noticeable tax increase begins in 2013 . the medicare payroll tax for individuals making more than $200,000 a year will go up nearly a percentage point, a 30% increase. it was the power of the presidency that put the democrats over the top on sunday afternoon. with the white house striking a deal with the last handful of democratic holdouts, led by michigan congressman bart stupak over the issue of abortion.

    >> i'm pleased to announce we have an agreement.

    >> reporter: the president's lawyer, bob bauer , spent most of the weekend working with stupak, reaffirming his position that the bill should not allow federal money to be used for abortion procedure.

    >> make no doubt about it, there will be no public funds for abortion.

    >> reporter: later on the house floor, stupak found himself heckled when someone shouted "baby killer." now, the entire issue is not yet settled. the house passed that senate bill , passed last christmas eve , word for word. then they did the second bigg bill of reconciliation, fixes, if you will. the senate takes that up tomorrow. they have to pass that word for word. senate republicans want to gum up the process a little bit this week. it's going to be a long week again. but, again, one part of the bill has passed and the president himself may actually sign it as soon as tomorrow, lester.

    >> all right. chuck todd at the white house . chuck, thanks. let's drill down a little
updated 3/23/2010 3:46:49 PM ET 2010-03-23T19:46:49

A historic overhaul of the nation’s health care system has passed and has been signed into law by President Barack Obama. But the legislation, which garnered no Republican support, has prompted frustration and even anger from people of all political affiliations who are confused about the bottom line of the bill and what it means for their lives.

Supporters argue that the legislation will extend coverage to 32 million Americans who lack it, bans insurers from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions, and cuts deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade.

But many Americans are wary of unfamiliar changes to their existing insurance policies and fear hefty penalties for not obtaining coverage. There are also those who feel that the legislation was pushed unfairly through Congress using a series of procedural tricks and backroom deals. Others believe that the law is too watered down because it does not offer a government-administered public option, a key provision supported by progressive Democrats. And many believe that the deficit-reducing math does not add up, leaving future generations to bear the burden of a crushing federal debt.

Of more than 350,000 responses to a vote posted on, more than 67 percent of respondents said they are “angry” with the legislation and believe it constitutes increased government involvement in health care. Just 25 percent of respondents to the informal survey said they were “excited,” believing the overhaul to be a step in the right direction for America.

Below is a sampling of comments left by our users on

I am saddened that this is the best that could be gotten. But given how difficult it was even to get this much passed, I am pleased that President Obama and the congressional Democrats got this much. It is not enough. But it is a step forward.

Mikey K.:
Other nations have universal health care, but exceptionally high taxes to pay for it. Other nations have excellent health care, but the technologies, pharmaceuticals, methods, are developed in the U.S.

Video: Frustration reaches beyond Beltway

The way I see it right now there is really a huge need for clarity on the whole thing. We need a really well answered FAQ on this legislation since it is probably the biggest thing done in this country in a very long time that directly effects our well being and our tax rates. It seems pretty obvious by reading all the posts that no one really knows how it is going to shake out for the average person.

Pat Lewis:
I'm thankful it passed — preventative medicine saves money. It's better to have health care in early stages of disease instead of waiting when things are much worse. So many people don't go to the doctor because they can't afford it, and yes, these are Americans with jobs.

Nothing in this bill addresses the cost of insurance, coverage, or tort reform ... you can't have a good bill without these items included and that is the fault of the current administration.

I was over in France visiting 6 months ago. My friend, a nurse, recognized symptoms I was having in my legs as a serious neurological problem ... I had an MRI and neurological tests with a correct diagnosis. It cost me less than $500. When I came back to the U.S., it was a month before I could see a doctor, and I had to have the same MRI's etc, which cost me $2000 — up to the limit of my deductible. I had an operation. When my friend the nurse came to visit me after the operation she was appalled because I had come down with a bladder infection and was having side effects due to the Percoset... no doctors in our wonderful system had noticed because once I was discharged from the hospital ... I was forgotten ... People who think America is the greatest country in the world have obviously never traveled outside America.

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Video: 'Baby killer' yelled at Rep. Stupak

Way to kill the economy and destroy the Constitution. Forcing people to buy something is simply un-American. The "corruptocrats" should have mandated lowering costs by opening up competition across state lines, massive tort reform to lower malpractice insurance costs, and remove the thousands of government/union jobs in Medicare/Medicaid which only serve to feed bureaucracy.

Bill L:
I am furious. Any other person in this country would be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned for bribery and yet sweetheart deals have been made to various representatives and senators for their vote on this issue by the president himself. These representatives are boasting about serving the American people and yet the majority of the American people have forcefully declared their disapproval of this albatross.

The sad thing is this bill does very little to lower costs at all. So that bill will keep rising. I would like for you to point out how something that costs a trillion dollars, had to double count 500 billion dollars of Medicare cuts and only covers six out of the 10 years of taxes that lowers health care costs.

Be careful what you wish for. Most people do not understand how insurance risk pools work and think they are getting something for free/subsidized and paid for by the rich. Wait until they cannot find a doctor willing to see them, premiums continue to rise, and very little in the way of new jobs. I never thought I would see the day that our great country would be destroyed by self-serving representatives. The government has never run one program within budget. Yet you all think this one will work.

Cindy Speaks:
The problem with the current health care system is not the health care system — it is the legal system. Until we have tort reform and caps for damages across the nation, the health care system will not be "fixed!" Large, punitive awards from juries wanting to punish someone for accidents and tragedies, drive up premiums for medicines, doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. Someone must pay for that cost — it doesn't just come from the insurers and the providers. Those costs are passed down to the consumers. This new plan will not only drive the good and talented providers elsewhere.

I am a doctor. Here is my plight: I will have to pay more in Medicare taxes and take a pay cut at the same time. Having said this, I see patients daily that have no money for the medicine they need to live. They return to the E.R. numerous times for their "health care." And guess who pays the E.R. bill? You and I.Either we let these people die at the door of the hospital because they cannot pay. Or, we pay for their health care. There is no other option ... I have a conscience. I won't let my fellow American die at the door. I'll pay for her health care. God forgive me, and the rest of you who complain about it.

This is a sad day for America. I, like John McCain, was repulsed by the celebrating of the Democrats. America, once the land of the free, is fast on the road to socialism and economic ruin, certainly not a cause for celebration. This bill, although it has some good points, is basically a government takeover of the healthcare system, 1/6th of our economy. Read it! Don't just listen to the talking points stressing the few good things in among the many very destructive things.

While many good things were in this bill, the overall effect will be a negative drag on our country. As usual, politicians feeling like the candyman handed out all sorts of things to people who don't have insurance using other people's money. Anyone who looks closely at the bill will plainly see that the promises of adding 32 million people to health insurance rolls ... not healthcare ... cannot be accomplished without massive spending. I feel very sad for our country. Eventually the Democrats are going to run out of other people's money.

So how will all of this be paid for? Only in America can someone be ignorant enough to believe that you can save/reduce our deficit by over $100 billion by spending over $1 trillion. That's equivalent to my wife buying a $100 pair of jeans and telling me that she saved money because they were normally priced at $125. At the end of the day she still spent $100.

I want to see health care reform, I want to see insurance companies who actually cover people instead of looking for reasons to deny coverage, but what I do not want is a government run health care system. We've already seen how our government runs the Veterans Hospitals and treats our vets like the lowest form of life.

Video: Health care politics take nasty turn

Finally the working class is going to get some attention rather than Wall Street or the oil industry or corporate America ... If the bill isn't perfect, we will correct it as time goes by. The only reason that Social Security is broke is because Congress has raided all the money that was to fund it and replaced those monies with IOU's. Medicare actually works pretty good.

I'm excited about the potential this has for my two college kids. One will be graduating in May, has a job offer, but would have no health care when she gets bumped off our family coverage when she's no longer a full time student. With her school loans and living expenses, there's no way she would be able to afford insurance. This new bill will hopefully allow us to keep her on our coverage for 4 more years — until she reaches age 26.

I run a small business with five employees. I am considering what to do when I am forced to provide health care. My accountant says I could hire only people with their own health care (possibly through a spouse) and that I should lay off people without insurance. I have looked into providing health care and found it to expensive for small business. (Basically to afford it there would have to be a layoff) We are struggling in this economy and the accountant said we cannot afford this. I have read that this bill will cost a lot for the big companies too. I guess I may have to cut back and go it alone without employees.

One senator likened this health care plan to civil rights, the BIG difference is the health care plan is NOT a bipartisan bill. The government should not be in the health care business — they will drive private insurers out of business; raise premiums, pick and choose who is "healthy" and "insurable"; and guess what, those who work will be subsidizing those who don't.

We needed health care reform, but not this bill. This bad bill will be far more expensive than the Democrats are acknowledging. It very well may bankrupt the nation because it will unleash an insatiable demand, but does not adequately pay for the benefits promised.

As an American, I am very upset by this vote. I believe that the health care system needs to be fixed but not this way. There was no bipartisan effort, there was no transparency, there were secret backdoor deals, there was no effort by Washington to redeem themselves, this is a sad day for America and the Democrats were driving the bus. This is a monument to everything that is bad in American politics and the worst part is that it will do nothing to fix the real issues in America today.'s Kara Kearns and Carrie Dann contributed to this report.

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