U.S. passage of historic health care reform stirs mixed reactions

08:11, March 23, 2010      

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Americans harbor mixed feelings about Sunday's sweeping health care reforms, with many voicing opposition to the landmark legislation and a nearly equal number expressing approval.

After a year of political wrangling as Congressional Democrats struggled to secure the votes necessary to pass the health care reform, a bill passed late Sunday night by a slim majority of 219 to 212.

The controversial new law, which lawmakers said will extend health insurance benefits to more than 30 million uninsured Americans, will soon arrive at the White House for the president's signature.

The legislation encompasses a number of reforms to the nation's health care system, which comprises one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Provisions include forbidding insurance companies from dropping sick policy holders and denying coverage to those with pre- existing conditions. Most Americans will also be forced to carry health insurance, those who can not afford it will receive tax breaks and young people will be able to remain on parents' plans until age 26.

But opinion over the controversial legislation varies.

Sharon Ammons, an African American who hands out newspapers in Northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., said of the bill's passage: "It's about time. It's going to help a lot of people."

Ammons is uninsured and must head to a hospital emergency room in the event of illness, where she waits for long periods of time to see a doctor. "Sometimes half a day," she said. Other times, she simply goes with no medical treatment at all.


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