111th congress, vote #887; House of Representatives #3962

Affordable Health Care for America Act

Official Title: An act to provide a physician payment update, to provide pension funding relief, and for other purposes.

HR 3962: Affordable Health Care for America Act
Passed House November 7, 2009, 220-215.

Synopsis: This was the first vote on a health reform bill. It included a new government-run insurance plan (aka the "public option") to compete with the private companies. This early version of health reform legislation:

  • Required that all Americans have health insurance;
  • Prohibited insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions; and
  • Called for a surtax on individuals with incomes above $500,000.

Because this bill included a public option that would compete with private insurers, many liberals preferred it to the version that finally passed in 2010. Surprisingly, this was originally a House bill, sponsored by Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.). It passed by the thinnest of margins, with just two votes to spare. House Democrats tried to close ranks, but 39 Democrats bucked their party's leaders to vote "No." A year later, the significantly more conservative Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would barely scrape through the House, 219-212.

The public option was ultimately dropped because both the White House and many Democrats in Congress saw it as an impediment to getting a law passed. The surtax on individuals with incomes over $500,000 also was scrapped.

Why supporters pushed for this bill

"This legislation will mean affordability for the middle class, security for our seniors, and honors our responsibility to our children, adding not one dime to the deficit," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) – who has introduced national health insurance in every Congress since taking office 1955 – said the bill "provides coverage for 96 percent of Americans. It offers everyone, regardless of health or income, the peace of mind that comes from knowing they will have access to affordable health care when they need it."

Why opponents tried to stop the bill

Republicans labeled the bill "a massive government takeover of an industry that account for one-sixth of the U.S. economy." They warned that the Democratic bill would pave the way toward taxpayer-funded abortions and coverage for illegal immigrants.

"Generations unborn are crying out to us tonight to preserve their freedoms," said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who had drawn thousands of conservative "tea party" activists into the halls of Capitol office buildings on Thursday to protest the bill.

11/7/2009 11:16 PM

Status: House passed 220-215

More: select a member to see his or her other key health care votes.


Yes (220)

No (215)