KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

House Passes Historic Health Care Reform Legislation

The Washington Post: "House Democrats scored a historic victory in the century-long battle to reform the nation's health-care system late Sunday night. ... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues erupted in cheers and hugs as the votes were counted, while Republicans who had fought the Democratic efforts on health-care reform for more than a year appeared despondent. ... The debate has consumed Obama's first year in office, ... inflamed the partisanship that Obama pledged to tame when he campaigned for the White House and has limited Congress's ability to pass any other major legislation, at least until after the midterm elections in November. And it has sparked a citizens' revolt that reached the doors of the Capitol this weekend" (Murray and Montgomery, 3/22). 

The New York Times: "With the 219-to-212 vote, the House gave final approval to legislation passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve. Thirty-four Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the bill." Following that vote, the House then "adopted a package of changes to [the Senate-passed measure] by a vote of 220 to 211. That package - agreed to in negotiations among House and Senate Democrats and the White House - now goes to the Senate for action as soon as this week" (Pear and Herszenhorn, 3/21).

The Los Angeles Times: "On the House floor, Democrats erupted into cheers of 'Yes, we can!' at 10:45 p.m. Eastern time as the decisive 216th 'yes' vote was recorded, capping a tortuous campaign that several senior lawmakers linked to the historic battle for civil rights two generations earlier. 'This is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century,' said Democratic Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the top-ranking black member of the House." Meanwhile, "Angry protesters swarmed over the Capitol lawn throughout the day, cheering sympathetic Republicans who urged them on from the House balcony. They called for lawmakers to 'kill the bill' and warned of dire political consequences for Democrats who voted for the legislation. ... But after a final flurry of negotiating defused an intraparty dispute over abortion and locked down the last votes, Democratic lawmakers ... were celebrating the payoff of a monumental gamble" (Levey and Hook, 3/22).

USA Today has an interactive map of how each member voted. "Republicans who voted unanimously against the health care overhaul, along with 34 Democrats, predicted it would come back to bite Democrats at the polls - and in the form of repeal efforts as soon as next year" (Wolfe and Fritze, 3/22).

The Wall Street Journal: "It was a tumultuous sprint to the finish for legislation that has brought Washington many dramas over the last year, ranging from a Christmas Eve Senate vote to the surprise January election of Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown that upended Democrats' plans." The big changes sparked reaction from various groups, with opposition coming from the business community and insurers bracing to bear the heaviest regulations. "Hospitals, doctors, drug makers and the seniors group AARP backed the overhaul, saying it will reduce the growth of health costs and make sure no one goes without care" (Adamy and Hitt, 3/22).

The Christian Science Monitor: "The vote is being touted as the single most significant piece of domestic legislation to be passed by Congress since Medicare in 1965. Though Democrats and Republicans disagreed on whether it was for good or ill, most acknowledged that it was a historic day in American politics" (Sappenfield, 3/22).

The Associated Press includes a timeline of "pivotal moments in American health care history" from 1798 to the present (3/22).

KHN's Morning Edition provides more coverage of the health bill's impact on consumers and the health industry.

Kaiser Health News tracked news coverage over the weekend, including the Democrats' efforts on Saturday to lock down the last hold-out votes and leaders' statements about the vote tally as well as details of the tension surrounding the compromise on abortion funding and the first reports after the historic vote.   

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.