'What Change Looks Like': Health Care Bill Passes House

In a historic vote, Democrats in Congress approved a plan to renovate the U.S. health care system.

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Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Barbara Lee tied the bill's passage to the unique health disparities that affect black America: "To those who suffer from those health disparities, our vote tonight carries significance similar to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in that it fulfills a dream that has been elusive for far too long and for far too many Americans."

What Happens Now

Historical significance aside, Democrats are betting that the bill will be defensible on political grounds come the midterm elections this fall. Republicans have gone all-in in the opposite direction. Republican Strategist Karl Rove made a prediction hours before the final vote: "We will fight the election on this, and the Democrats will have significant losses in the House and Senate as a result of this bill." That outcome remains to be seen, especially since it forces Republicans to run on repealing benefits that Americans have.

Still, the highly contentious town hall meetings and an anti-health care "tea party" rallies this weekend, which produced racist and inflammatory remarks lobbed at Democratic supporters of health care reform, including civil rights pioneer John Lewis, show that there will be a pitched battle all the way until Election Day  2010--and perhaps beyond.

Dayo Olopade is Washington reporter for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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Covers the White House and Washington for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.