Obama signs health care law

Published 11:14 am Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today, President Barack Obama signed the historic health care bill into law, but what has become a staunch political fight over reform legislation looks to be far from over.

Republicans across the country are specifically challenging the mandate in the health care bill that requires every individual to have health insurance, charging that it is unconstitutional.

At least four bills have been introduced in the Alabama Legislature to block any provision that would require an Alabama resident to purchase health insurance. Also, Attorney General Troy King said Monday he hoped Alabama would join 12 other states who are planning to challenge the constitutionality of the federal law mandating health insurance coverage in federal court.

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“Personally, I think the whole process was flawed,” Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital CEO Mike Marshall said. “It seems to me that it changed from doing something to help people…to ‘We’re going to pass this, come hell or high water.’ That’s not what this is about.”

Marshall pointed to the partisan nature of the bill as a key indicator that, he thought, Washington lost its focus on helping the American public.

“Not one single Republican (in the House) voted in favor of it,” he said, “It wasn’t a bipartisan effort. There was too much deal-making and vote trading and too many side agreements.”

Even though the bill was signed into law Tuesday, it still faces a significant uphill battle.

A reconciliation bill comes before the Senate Tuesday under special rules that provide only 20 hours of debate, but allows unlimited amendments at the end of the allotted time, meaning the bill could be amended significantly by week’s end.

“Really, it’s hard to say where this will end up,” Marshall said. “There’s certainly a lot of opportunity to improve it.”