After several months of heated debates, the US Senate on Thursday passed the healthcare reform bill that aims to extend coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans.
The final passage of the bill, on a 60-39 vote strictly along party lines with no Republican support, is seen as a huge political victory for president Barack Obama.
"As I've said before, these are not small reforms; these are big reforms. If passed, this will be the most important piece of social policy since the Social Security Act in the 1930s, and the most important reform of our health care system since Medicare passed in the 1960s," Obama said.
The plan seeks to raise $544 billion over 10 years by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans and imposing a surtax of 5.4 per cent on couples with income in excess of $1 million. (See: US government plans tax on wealthy Americans to foot health-care costs).
The state machinery has been campaigning using techniques including web videos, fact-checks and rapid response efforts to counter the Republican opposition to overhaul the US healthcare system (See: Obama takes government stand on healthcare public and Obama to address joint session of Congress on health reform).
"Ever since Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform in 1912, seven presidents – Democrats and Republicans alike – have taken up the cause of reform," Obama said after the vote.