Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Obama set to sign health-care bill

U.S. President Barack Obama will sign a landmark health-care reform bill Tuesday in a White House ceremony.

House and Senate Democrats who supported the bill will join Obama as he delivers remarks about the health-care overhaul in the White House's East Room.

Obama will then head to the Interior Department after the signing ceremony to make further comments about the new health regime. An audience of 600 people, including doctors, health-care advocates, Americans with health conditions and members of Congress, is expected to attend.

The next act begins Thursday, when Obama visits Iowa City, Iowa, where he announced his health-care plan as a presidential candidate in May 2007. Obama plans to talk about how the new law will help lower health-care costs for small businesses and families, selling the overhaul to Americans who are deeply divided over the plan.

Republicans, united in opposition, pledged to repeal Obama's redesign of the health-care system, which they criticized as a costly government takeover affecting one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the historic bill late Sunday. It will make coverage possible for more than 30 million uninsured Americans and end discrimination by insurance companies against people with existing medical conditions.

Legislators voted 219-212 in favour of the landmark legislation, which has been debated on Capitol Hill for a year. The bill, previously passed by the Senate, didn't receive a single vote from Republicans.

Republican-leaning states are already lining up to sue the government over the constitutionality of the legislation. Officials in at least 10 states have agreed to file a lawsuit challenging it on grounds it violates state sovereignty by mandating that all Americans have some form of health insurance.

Experts say the effort will likely fail because the Constitution states that federal law supersedes state laws, but it will keep the issue alive until the congressional elections in November.

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