President Obama Signs Healthcare Bill Into Law

By: KKTV Email
By: KKTV Email

President Barack Obama has officially signed the landmark health care legislation into law Tuesday.

Obama surrounded himself at the White House with aides, Cabinet members and Democratic leaders who helped pushed the bill through. Also in attendance: families whose lives have changed due to this new health care law.

He also plans to make trips around the country, starting with Iowa Thursday, to persuade skeptics that the medical system remake will make their lives better.

Republicans say they'll continue to fight it in whatever forum is appropriate, including the courts.

The Democratic-controlled Congress approved the historic legislation Sunday extending health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans.

The vote in the House was 219-212 Sunday. 34 Democrats sided with Republicans, who were unanimously opposed to the measure. The house also passed a bill of changes, which they'd like to make the Senate's version. That bill, called a Reconciliation Bill, will now head to the Senate, where it only requires a simple majority (51 votes) to pass.

The action late Sunday capped a yearlong quest by Obama and Democrats to overhaul the system and reshape a sixth of the economy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says a sweeping overhaul of health care is a proposal that honors the nation's traditions. Pelosi has guided the legislation through the House and appeared to have secured the votes to win passage. She credited President Barack Obama for what she called an "unwavering commitment" to extend health care to all Americans.

Democrats greeted Pelosi with a standing ovation as she approached the lectern to speak on Sunday. With the vote imminent, she called on Democrats to "make history for our country and progress for the American people."

Pelosi credited the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., for making "health care his life's work" and pushing for legislation until his death. Kennedy's son, Patrick, gave her a kiss when she finished.

Criticizing the move, House Republican leader John Boehner says the health care legislation passed Sunday fails the country and says Congress has failed to listen to America.

Boehner drew hisses from Democrats as he criticized the Democratic overhaul of health coverage. He asked for Democrats to conduct a rare roll call vote on the bill. Democrats did not immediately agree.

Not a single Republican voted for the bill, including Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn. "It's bad for the American people in so many ways...it's unconstitutional...and yet we are passing it. I can't believe it! The majority of people are against it," says Congressman Lamborn.

KKTV spoke to Congressman Lamborn Monday. He says he did not read the bill because he knew he did not agree with it.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers joined with nearly a dozen other state attorneys general to challenge whether the individual health care mandate included in the reform bill is even constitutional.

The lawsuit was filed seven minutes after President Barack Obama signed the overhaul bill Tuesday. It names the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is taking the lead in the lawsuit. Attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Louisiana, Idaho, Washington and Colorado are joining in. Other GOP attorneys general may join the lawsuit later or sue separately.

Other Colorado lawmakers also responded to the vote. Colorado’s Democratic Congressman, John Salazar, said today that he celebrates the health care reform bill. “Because of today’s vote our families and friends, our children and grandchildren won’t have to suffer without health coverage or at the hands of a broken insurance system," he said.

Salazar added that the bill will improve coverage for hundreds of thousands of Colorado residents with health insurance, and give tax credits and other assistance to up to 184,000 families and 24,400 small businesses to help them afford coverage. He also highlighted the bill’s no-deficit spending, and noted that the legislation will be in large part paid for by eliminating waste, fraud, abuse and excessive profits for private insurers.

However, Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman, a Republican from Aurora, said that he opposes the bill passed on Sunday. “Our health care system is in desperate need of reform,” said Coffman. “But this massive government takeover is not the answer. I cannot support a bill that burdens families and small businesses with half a trillion dollars in new job-killing taxes, strips half a trillion dollars from Medicare to fund a new entitlement program, drives up the deficit, and buries our nation in debt.”

Coffman added that he finds the financial estimates by the Congressional Budget Office and by Democrats to be unrealistic.

The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce told 11 News it's been hearing from local business owners who are worried over how they will pay for the insurance coverage. "There's a lot of concern amongst our small business owners because they're not quite certain what it means," said Stephannie Finley, president of governmental affairs.

Others in Southern Colorado are looking forward to the bills impact. Peak Vista, a federally funded non-profit, said its patient list will grow because of the bill. "It could be close to doubling access for patients who have no coverage at all right now," said Lynn Pelz, spokeswoman for Peak Vista.

Abortion is another issue still being debated as the health care reform bill heads to the President's desk.

Focus on the Family agrees that millions of Americans need affordable health care. But, the pro-life group says not at the expense of unborn children.

"We're very disappointed of course that the house passed this bill last night. It does still fund abortion that's our main concern with this legislation," said Ashley Horne, Focus on the Family Action's Federal Policy Analyst.

The version that passed does cover abortion in cases of rape, incest or when they mother's life is in danger. But for elective abortions, Planned Parenthood believes that part of the bill goes too far.

"We're not happy with the Nelson provisions, but we want health care to pass, we're grateful it passed. It truly was a historical day," said spokesperson Monica McCafferty.

Under the plan, if a woman wants elective abortion coverage and her insurance is paid for even in part by the government, she will have to write two separate checks to her insurance provider each month. One would specifically be set aside to cover the possibility of future abortions.

The idea is to make sure taxpayers don't end up footing the bill for any part of an elective abortion.

Click here to read the version of the passed bill in its entirety

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