House Approves Companion Bill to Healthcare Overhaul

March 26, 2010

Days after passing the healthcare overhaul bill that took the better part of a year to hammer out, the United States House of Representatives approved the companion package yesterday. The companion package had already been approved by the House before, but after the vote on the main bill, the Senate parliamentarian ordered two minor provisions regarding the revamp of student loans be removed.

According to the parliamentarian, the provisions in question did not adhere to reconciliation rules requiring they have a budgetary impact.

The Senate’s vote on the changes came after about 40 Republican-created amendments designed to derail the bill or force the Democrats to play politics were killed. The final tally was 56-43.

As the debate on healthcare drew to a close, and the bills were passed, the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor index of health insurers rose 0.4 percent, only slightly higher than the broader market. A similar increase was seen by UnitedHealthGroup and Aetna.

Several major American manufacturers said the overhaul would cause enormous increases in after-tax costs. Deer & Co., a farm equipment company, said it expected an increase of $150 million to its healthcare costs. Similarly, Caterpillar estimated it would see an increase of over $100 million.

Robert Gibbs, spokesman for the White House said the first-year increase is due to the healthcare law closed an accounting loophole. “Our bill simply closes the loophole that allows them to deduct that money one time by not counting it as income,” he told reporters on Air Force One.

The House vote was 220-207.