Obama Signs Health Care Bill

President Obama on Tuesday signed a historic health care reform bill. “We are not a nation that scales back its aspirations,” Obama said of the decades-long struggle to pass the measure. Millions of  workers, families, seniors, small business owners stand to benefit from lower health care costs, improved coverage and strong consumer protections. The landmark legislation will extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, and reduce federal budget deficits by $143 billion in the coming decade. A provision by Senator Bernie Sanders will dramatically expand community health centers and double the number of patients receiving primary care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs.  Sanders joined other members of Congress at the bill-signing ceremony in the White House East Room.

The bill includes $10 billion over five years for community health center construction, expansion and operations and an increased investment in the National Health Service Corps to train more primary care doctors and other health care professionals. Another $2.5 billion for health centers operations is in a package of amendments awaiting final Senate action.

“The bill is not as strong as I wanted and I will work to improve it, but it begins to move this country toward the long-time goal of providing comprehensive, affordable health care for all Americans. We can do better, but this is an important step forward.”

All told, the number of health center sites nationally over the next five years would double from 7,500 to 15,000 sites. The number of patients served would go from 20 million today to about 40 million by 2015. That investment in health centers would save Medicaid $17 billion over the five-year period that would otherwise be spent on more expensive hospital and emergency room care, according to researchers at George Washington University.  The $1.5 billion allotted for loan repayments and scholarships through the National Health Service Corps would add more than 17,000 primary care doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and mental health professionals in medically-underserved areas.

For a summary of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, click here.

For a summary of Health Care and Revenue Provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, click here.

For a section-by-section analysis of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, click here.

For analysis of the immediate benefits within the law, click here.

To see a timeline of implementation, click here.