The House of Representatives passed a landmark budget reconciliation bill on March 21, 2010 that includes health care reform as part of the package. The budget reconciliation bill, which sets spending limits and change revenue, was employed to pass health reform since this bill cannot be filibustered in the Senate where it lacked the 60 votes to pass.
The legislation aims to provide health insurance for 32 million Americans currently without insurance by providing an insurance "exchange". increasing coverage in Medicaid programs by closing the "doughnut hole", and providing small businesses with tax credits making insurance more affordable.
It also changes the way insurance companies currently conduct business. They will no longer be able to cancel insurance when lifetime caps are reached or deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
A 3.8% tax will be imposed on Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) for those earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 married couples).
Not all these changes will be immediate, with some not going into effect until 2018.
The bill now goes to the Senate for final approval and then on to President Obama for signature before the amendments take effect.