Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

House Votes Approval of Health Bill Measure Aims to Make Insurance More Available; Senate Votes Today

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

House Votes Approval of Health Bill Measure Aims to Make Insurance More Available; Senate Votes Today

Article excerpt

The House overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday night designed to make health insurance more available to millions of Americans and to provide new tax breaks for long-term care.

The 421-2 vote belied months of controversy over the measure and set the stage for final Senate approval today. President Bill Clinton's signature is assured.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said, "It means guaranteed health insurance for everyone who's in the system without regard to preconditions, so that we've relieved the largest single anxiety of working middle-class Americans."

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said at a news conference attended by Democratic leaders of Congress, "If you change your job or lose your job, you will no longer risk losing your health insurance, too. And you won't be denied insurance because of an exclusion for a pre-existing condition."

The health reform measure was one of several bills lawmakers hastened to clear before adjourning at week's end for political conventions:

The Senate, overriding protests that overhauling welfare would run roughshod over the poor, voted 78-21 to complete congressional action Thursday on a Republican bill to end six decades of guaranteed cash assistance.

A minimum wage increase - 90 cents an hour over the next 13 months - was expected to be the last bill cleared before lawmakers leave the Capitol for a month-long break.

The House named legislation making English the official language of the federal government in honor of late Rep. Bill Emerson, R-Mo., a longtime proponent of the measure. The House later sent the bill to the Senate on a 259-169 vote.

Other measures making their way toward Clinton's desk included one dealing with the nation's drinking water and possibly another meant to boost the fight against terrorism, a hurry-up response to the loss of TWA Flight 800 and last week's bombing at the Olympics.

The health care bill approved by the House includes an experimental program of tax-deductible medical savings accounts. It also includes tax breaks for the costs of long-term care, which are expected to save individuals and employers nearly $8 billion over the next decade. A portion of long term care insurance premiums would be deductible, as would some of the cost of long-term care. …

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