President Barack Obama is preparing to sign a transformative health care bill ushering in near-universal medical coverage for the first time in the nation's history — and then hit the road to sell it to a reluctant public. Obama will travel to Iowa City, Iowa on Thursday, the White House said, as he now turns to seeing a companion bill through the Senate and selling the health care overhaul's benefits on behalf of House members who cast risky votes. It is most likely that he will sign the bill on Tuesday, but plans are not yet final, said a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an as-yet-unannounced strategy. House Democrats voted 219- 212 late Sunday to send the landmark legislation to Obama. The 10-year, $938 billion bill would extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, reduce deficits and ban insurance company practices such as charging more to women and denying coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions. "This is what change looks like," Obama said later in televised remarks that stirred memories of his 2008 campaign promise of "change we can believe in." "We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people." Obama's young presidency received a much needed boost from passage of the legislation, which would touch the lives of nearly every American. The battle for the future of the health insurance system — affecting one-sixth of the economy — galvanized Republicans and conservative activists looking ahead to November's midterm elections. A companion package making a series of changes sought by House Democrats to the larger bill, which already passed the Senate, was approved 220-211.
Obama to sign health bill, take it on the road
Published: Monday, March 22nd, 2010
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