U.S. President Barack Obama has signed into law sweeping health care reform, capping a year-long struggle with opposition Republicans and some in his own Democratic Party.
Mr. Obama said Tuesday the law will enshrine the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care. Vice President Joe Biden called it a "historic day."
This is the most significant reform to the U.S. health care system in four decades. The law will extend health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans who currently are without it.
The push for reform triggered emotional debate across the country and was strongly opposed by Republicans, who say the plan is too costly, and is an unnecessary government intrusion into personal medical decisions. The measure passed the House Sunday by a narrow margin (219-to-212), with every Republican and 34 Democrats voting against it.
Fourteen states immediately filed lawsuits against the reforms, calling them unconstitutional. State officials contend the law infringes on state sovereignty by requiring all Americans to have some sort of health insurance.
The $940 billion legislation eventually will provide subsidies for Americans to purchase mandatory private health care insurance.
The law also includes such provisions as tax credits for small businesses that provide health insurance coverage for their employees. Insurance companies will now be barred from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, or dropping people when they get sick.
The Senate this week will begin debate on a package of revisions to the main legislation. Senate Republicans vow to offer numerous amendments aimed at blocking passage of the companion bill.
President Obama travels Thursday to the central U.S. state of Iowa, where he first outlined his health care reform plan as a presidential candidate. He is expected to promote the bill over the next several months to help Democratic lawmakers ahead of congressional elections in November.