WASHINGTON, March 21 (UPI) — The House Sunday approved a procedural measure to be followed in voting on U.S. healthcare reform by a majority that analysts said suggests the bill will pass.
By a vote of 224-206, the House adopted rules for the debate to precede a final vote on legislation supporters say will extend access to healthcare insurance for tens of millions of Americans and eliminate exclusions for those with pre-existing conditions.
The vote came after anti-abortion Democrats said they had reached a deal with the White House, ensuring enough votes for House passage of healthcare reform. Under the deal, President Barack Obama would sign an executive order stipulating no federal funding will pay for abortion under healthcare reform, the White House said.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., joined at least eight other anti-abortion House Democrats to announce the deal at a news conference. All nine said they would support the healthcare bill.
“We are very pleased with this order,” Stupak said. In answer to a reporter’s question, Stupak said, “We’re well past 216″ votes, the amount needed for passage in the House.
Based on changes made by Democrats Saturday, the Congressional Budget Office revised the bill’s cost estimate to $938 billion over 10 years. The CBO said that would be more than covered by new tax revenues and spending cuts, including $500 billion from a program known as Medicare Advantage, resulting in a $138 billion reduction in the deficit.
The measure would extend insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans who have none, add millions of people to Medicaid rolls and forbid insurance companies to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions. All Americans would have to have insurance or face fines, and business would be required to provide coverage for employees.
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