The votes are in: yesterday evening, after a last-minute compromise over abortion payments, the US House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill effecting major changes in American medical finance. From the BBC's coverage: "The president is expected to sign the House-passed Senate bill as early as Tuesday, after which it will be officially enacted into law. However, it will contain some very unpopular measures that Democratic senators have agreed to amend. The Senate will be able to make the required changes in a separate bill using a procedure known as reconciliation, which allows budget provisions to be approved with 51 votes - rather than the 60 needed to overcome blocking tactics." No Republican voted in favor of the bill; 34 Democrats voted against. As law, the system set forth would extend insurance coverage to an estimated 32 million Americans, impose new taxes on high-income earners as well as provide some tax breaks and subsidies for others, and considerably toughen the regulatory regime under which insurance companies operate. The anticipated insurance regime phases in (starting with children, and expanding to adults in 2014) a requirement that insurance providers accept those with preexisting conditions, and creates a system of fines, expected to be administered by the IRS, for those who fail or refuse to obtain health insurance.
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