Congress approves landmark health care billPosted: Updated:
(AP) - President Barack Obama is poised to sign the landmark health care bill ushering in near-universal medical coverage for the first time in the nation's history - and then he'll hit the road to resume selling it to a reluctant public. Obama will travel to Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday, the White House said, as he turns to seeing a companion bill through the Senate and talking up the overhaul's benefits on behalf of House members who cast risky votes. Obama is expected to sign the bill Tuesday at the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday. A South Lawn ceremony is planned. Obama is inviting all lawmakers who supported the bill and other Americans whose stories represent the need for reformed health care, Gibbs said. "Last night we made history," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters as she signed the legislation, a formality before Obama's own signature. "It's on a par with passing Social Security and Medicare." The House voted 219-212 late Sunday to send the 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 medical problems. "This is what change looks like," Obama said after the vote, a remark echoing 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 main bill, which already had passed the Senate, was approved 220-211. The fix-it bill will now go to the Senate, where debate is expected to begin as early as Tuesday. Senate Democrats hope to approve it unchanged and send it directly to Obama, though Republicans plan parliamentary objections that could change the bill and require it to go back to the House. Sen. John McCain said Monday morning that Democrats have not heard the last of the health care debate, and said he was repulsed by "all this euphoria going on." Appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America," McCain, who was Obama's GOP rival in the 2008 presidential campaign, said that "outside the Beltway, the American people are very angry. They don't like it, and we're going to repeal this."