President Barack Obama has won a big victory on US healthcare reform.
The vote was close — 220 to 215 — but the lower house of the US Congress has approved a bill that would expand healthcare coverage to nearly all Americans.
The US census bureau says over 46 million people there do not have health insurance.
The Democrats were jubilant. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said: “America, and the American people, won today. This was about them, not about us; this was not about party, but people; this was about making sure that every American, in the phrase that we use so often, has access to quality, affordable health care.”
But this was just the first step: the battle now moves to the upper house, the Senate, which has to pass its own version of the bill.
The two must then be reconciled before the healthcare reforms can become law.
The legislation would require most Americans to have private health insurance and provide government subsidies to those who cannot afford it.
Obama’s political opponents, the Republicans, have fought hard against this, saying it is too costly and too complicated; they illustrated that by unrolling the almost 2,000 page long bill on the steps of the Capitol building.
US healthcare reform moves closer